Herbs have been used as medical treatments since the beginning of civilization and some derivatives (eg, aspirin, reserpine, and digitalis) have become mainstays of human pharmacotherapy. For cardiovascular diseases, herbal treatments have been used in patients with congestive heart failure, systolic hypertension, angina pectoris, atherosclerosis, cerebral insufficiency, venous insufficiency, and arrhythmia. However, many herbal remedies used today have not undergone careful scientific assessment, and some have the potential to cause serious toxic effects and major drug-to-drug interactions. So, it’s important to know the herbal remedies that work and have been backed by science.
Cinnamon helps the heart in several ways. A 2013 review study of 10 previous studies found that a small daily dose of cinnamon decreased levels of total cholesterol, bad LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, a harmful type of blood fat. It also lowered blood sugar, protecting against diabetes, which increases the risk for heart attacks and strokes. You can sprinkle it in your oatmeal and smoothies.
Garlic's been used for centuries to boost heart health as well as other things. When you crush it, you release a compound called allicin. It's what gives garlic its stinky odor. Scientists think it helps keep your arteries flexible and lets blood flow better. "There are numerous, well-documented studies on garlic and its benefit to cardiovascular health," says David Foreman, RPh, author of 4 Pillars of Health: Heart Disease. It helps lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation. This combined effect can help decrease the risk of both heart attacks and strokes.
This substance is found in turmeric and gives the spice its rich, yellow color. It offers a bonanza of benefits for the heart, research shows: preventing dangerous blood clots, lowering cholesterol, and reducing inflammation that leads to heart attacks and strokes. It may also guard against heart failure when the heart doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. And studies show that curcumin may be as effective as medication and exercise at improving the health of blood vessels.
How To use it: Toss with roasted vegetables like cauliflower, onions, and carrots, or add to rice or soups. Some people take a turmeric supplement to get the benefit.
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