The heart is a muscular organ, about the size of a fist.
It pumps blood through a network of arteries and veins, called the cardiovascular system, to the rest of the body. This blood provides the body with oxygen and nutrients and helps in the removal of metabolic wastes.
It is the leading cause of death for both men and women. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 611,105 people die each year of heart disease.
Heart disease is the leading disease affecting America that’s preventable through diet.
Some common types of heart conditions include coronary artery disease, ischemic heart disease, irregular heart rhythm, atherosclerosis, angina, myocardial infarction (commonly known as a heart attack), hypertensive heart disease, congenital heart disease, and peripheral artery disease.
The risk of developing heart problems increases with factors such as excessive smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, aging, a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and excessive alcohol or caffeine intake.
As the heart functions 24/7, it is important to keep it healthy. Improved heart functioning depends highly on the quality of blood and blood flow.
A healthy, balanced diet and a healthy exercise regime can help you maintain a healthy heart. You can also incorporate certain herbs and spices into your diet to improve your heart health.
- Supplements and herbs are not regulated by the FDA. Make sure if you are taking this, check to see if there is a USP Seal, NSF, or Consumers Lab Seal that indicates that the products listed on the label are what’s in the product.
- These herbal supplements should only be used as an adjunct remedy to maintain a healthy heart and keep cardiovascular ailments at bay.
- However, if you are already suffering from heart disease or happen to experience symptoms associated with heart disease, do consult a cardiologist right away. Herbal supplements or other home remedies cannot be used as a standalone treatment for cardiovascular issues, which can quickly turn fatal if not met with adequate medical care. The purpose of these complementary tools is to preserve and promote heart health, rather than curing your cardiovascular ailments for good.
Herbs and Spices that Promote Heart Health
Here are 10 herbs and spices that are good for your heart.
1. Garlic may Help Reduce Cholesterol
Garlic is highly beneficial for heart health due to its anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, and antiplatelet properties.
A 2006 review study published in the American Society for Nutrition journal showed a strong correlation between garlic consumption and heart benefits.
Garlic is effective in treating raised serum total cholesterol, raised bad (low-density lipoprotein or LDL) cholesterol, increased platelet aggregation, and hypertension, thus reducing the risk of heart disease.
Scientific evidence suggests that consuming half to one clove of garlic daily may lower your cholesterol up to 9%.
Moreover, garlic helps to relax and dilate blood vessels, facilitating enhanced blood circulation but with reduced blood pressure.
- Eat 1 or 2 freshly crushed garlic cloves daily.
- If you can’t eat it whole, make it in a homemade dressing.
- You can opt to take garlic supplements. Consult your doctor for the correct dosage.
2. Turmeric can Help Maximize Your Heart Health
Turmeric has a compound called curcumin that possesses powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin enhances cardiovascular health and reduces the risk of many diseases related to the heart.
In addition, it prevents hardening of the arteries by inhibiting fat oxidation and lowering cholesterol.
- Use turmeric in your cooking or drink a glass of warm turmeric milk daily.
- As a nutritional supplement, you can take 250 mg to 600 mg standardized curcumin capsules three times daily. Consult your doctor for proper dosage.
3. Hawthorn is a Heart-Healthy Herb
Hawthorn is another well-known herb for heart health.
It helps in opening up blood vessels by causing vasodilation, which allows the heart to pump out blood properly, thereby lowering blood pressure.
It also increases blood flow to the heart and improves cardiac muscle contractions, thus leading to an overall stronger heart that functions optimally. In addition, its antiarrhythmic effect helps steady the heartbeat.
In a 2010 review conducted by Pharmacognosy Review, researchers studied clinical trials involving hawthorn and the herb’s safety profile. They concluded that hawthorn may potentially represent a safe, effective, nontoxic agent in the treatment of cardiovascular disease and ischemic heart disease.
- The flowers and leaves of this healthful herb can be dried up and used to brew a steaming cup of tea.
- Alternatively, you can even consume a tincture of the hawthorn berries to reap multiple cardiovascular benefits.
- The recommended supplement amount ranges from 160 mg to 1,800 mg per day in two or three divided doses. As this herb may interact with certain medications, consult your doctor before taking its supplement.
4. Hibiscus can Boost Cardiovascular Health
Followers of traditional medicine rely on hibiscus for the treatment of heart disease.
The water extracts of hibiscus flowers have a positive effect on atherosclerosis mechanisms, blood sugar, lipids, and blood pressure. All of these elements help improve overall heart health.
A 2003 animal study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that hibiscus extract helped inhibit the development of atherosclerosis in cholesterol-fed rabbits. High cholesterol is one of the main causes of heart disease.
- Drink a cup of hibiscus tea twice daily.
- You can also take 100 mg to 250 mg of a standardized extract twice daily. Consult your doctor for the correct dosage.
5. Include Cayenne in Your Diet
Cayenne contains capsaicin, which makes this spice a powerful antioxidant. It also has the potential to dilate blood vessels, combat oxidation, and prevent blood clots. All of these factors contribute to good heart health.
In addition, it helps burn calories and aids weight loss, further reducing the risk of developing heart problems.
- Add a ½ to 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to 1 cup of hot water. Drink this solution a few times a week.
- You can take capsaicin supplements in 2,000 IU to 4,000 IU every other day. However, always consult your doctor before taking supplements.
6. Green Tea May Help Stave off Heart Problems
Green tea is very good for your heart due to its flavonoids and antioxidants.
A 2008 study published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation reported that regular intake of green tea improves blood vessel functioning. By drinking more than 5 cups of green tea daily, you can lower the risk of death from a heart attack or stroke by 26%.
- Drink 4 to 5 cups of green tea (preferably caffeine-free) daily.
- You can even take 100 mg to 750 mg standardized green tea extract per day after consulting your doctor.
7. Consume Cinnamon for Improved Heart Function
This well-known spice can provide protection against heart disease.
It inhibits the release of inflammatory fatty acids from the blood’s platelet membranes, maintaining the proper thickness of the blood. This, in turn, reduces high blood pressure, which can damage the arteries and other organs.
In addition, cinnamon helps lower triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, which is important for your heart to function properly.
- For medicinal benefits, consume a ½ to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder per day. Sprinkle cinnamon powder in your oatmeal, tea, smoothies, soups, and salads.
- Add a cinnamon stick while making a cup of warm tea, such as black, ginger, or any other herbal tea.
8. Use More of Ginger for its Cardioprotective Perks
Ginger has natural blood-thinning and anti-inflammatory properties that can lower LDL cholesterol. The active ingredient in ginger is gingerol, a compound that helps relax blood vessels and stimulate blood flow throughout the body.
In a mice study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that regular intake of ginger extract reduces plasma cholesterol, inhibits LDL oxidation, and attenuates the development of atherosclerosis.
- Make ginger tea and drink it hot or cold, two or three times a day.
- Use fresh ginger root in your cooking by adding it to sauces, stir-fries, soups, and even fruit and vegetable drinks.
- You can also take a ginger supplement after consulting your doctor.
9. Take Fenugreek for Cardiovascular Wellness
Fenugreek has antioxidant and cardioprotective benefits, making it an important herb to promote heart health.
Moreover, fenugreek helps stabilize blood sugar and prevent obesity, two major factors behind heart disease.
- Soak 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in water overnight. The next morning, drain the water and eat the soaked seeds on an empty stomach. Do this daily.
- You can even drink 1 to 2 cups of fenugreek seed tea daily.
10. Coriander has Heart-Healing Potential
Both the fresh leaves and seeds of coriander are good for your heart due to their antiplatelet activity and natural antioxidant properties.
The leaves also referred to as cilantro, are stocked with beta-carotene, an antioxidant that can help lower bad cholesterol.
To further add to its merits, the antioxidant properties of cilantro help reduce platelet aggregation, which can cause an impairment of blood flow to the heart.
Coriander seeds have a hypolipidemic action in the body, which helps reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
A 2008 study published in the Journal of Environmental Biology proves this fact. Coriander is also useful in diabetes management, a major precipitating factor of cardiovascular issues.
- Add 1 teaspoon of coriander seed powder to 1 cup of water. Boil the water, strain it, and drink it once daily.
- Chop and use fresh cilantro leaves as a garnish on your dishes.
- Moreover, use whole or ground coriander seeds mixed with black pepper to season meats and fishes before cooking.
The pharmacological value of these herbs and spices predates their culinary usage and has come to be scientifically verified by evidence-based research conducted over the years.
These condiments can only improve your odds against heart disease when consumed as part of an overall heart-healthy diet.
When using these herbs medicinally, consult with a practitioner of herbal medicine to figure out the right formula and dosage of the herbs for your particular case.
Medicinal herbs and spices offer a simple and natural way of keeping your heart in good shape through your diet, without overburdening your system with expensive synthetic chemicals.
For all their worth, however, the efficacy of these herbal remedies should not be overestimated. Cardiovascular issues can take a turn for the worse and lead to life-threatening consequences.
Thus, you must accord them the required medical care and attention that they warrant by always keeping your doctor in the loop, even before trying out such adjunctive treatments.
If you suffer from any kind of heart ailment, under no circumstances must you discontinue or digress from the doctor-prescribed treatment by resorting to complementary treatments instead. Only a cardiologist will be able to discern the suitability of these herbs and spices for your particular heart condition.
- Heart Disease Facts & Statistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm.
- Heart Disease Prevention With Healthy Living Habits. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/healthy_living.htm. Published August 10, 2015.
- Torpy JM, Burke AE, Glass RM. Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors. JAMA. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/184989. Published December 2, 2009.
- Hravnak M, Whittle J, Kelley ME. Symptom Expression in Coronary Heart Disease and Revascularization Recommendations for Black and White Patients. American Journal of Public Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1963307/. Published September 2007.
- Albert N, Trochelman K, Li J. Nancy Albert. American Journal of Critical Care. http://ajcc.aacnjournals.org/content/19/5/443.abstract. Published September 1, 2010.
- Rahman K, Lowe GM. Garlic and Cardiovascular Disease: A Critical Review. The Journal of nutrition. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/136/3/736S/4664300. Published March 1, 2006.
- Vasanthi HR, Parameswari RP. Indian Spices for Healthy Heart – An Overview. Current Cardiology Reviews. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3083808/. Published November 2010.
- Kim DC, Ku SK, Bae JS. Anticoagulant activities of curcumin and its derivative. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Reports. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22531131. Published April 2012.
- Tortosa M. C. Ramı́rez-, Aguilera MC, Quiles JL. Oral administration of a turmeric extract inhibits LDL oxidation and has hypocholesterolemic effects in rabbits with experimental atherosclerosis. Plum X Metrix. https://www.atherosclerosis-journal.com/article/S0021-9150(99)00207-5/abstract. Published December 1999.
- Leung SWS, Wong MMW, Man RYK. Effects of an Extract of Hawthorn on Arterial Blood Pressure in Anaesthetized Rats. Cardiovascular Pharmacology: Open Access. https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/effects-of-an-extract-of-hawthorn-on-arterial-blood-pressure-in-anaesthetized-rats-2329-6607.1000104.php?aid=11269. Published January 30, 2013.
- Tassell MC, Kingston R, Gilroy D. Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Pharmacognosy Reviews. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249900/. Published 2010.
- Chen CC, Hsu J- D, Wang S- F. Hibiscus sabdariffa Extract Inhibits the Development of Atherosclerosis in Cholesterol-Fed Rabbits. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf030065w?journalCode=jafcau. Published July 29, 2003.
- Qin Y, Ran L, Wang J. Capsaicin Supplementation Improved Risk Factors of Coronary Heart Disease in Individuals with Low HDL-C Levels. Nutrients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5622797/. Published September 20, 2017.
- The benefits of green tea in reducing an important risk factor for heart disease. European Society of Cardiology. https://www.escardio.org/The-ESC/Press-Office/Press-releases/The-benefits-of-green-tea-in-reducing-an-important-risk-factor-for-heart-disease. Published July 2, 2008.
- Kim A, Chiu A, Barone MK, et al. Green tea catechins decrease total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of American Diet Association. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22027055. Published November 2011.
- Kapoor S. Green tea: beneficial effects on cholesterol and lipid metabolism besides endothelial function. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1097/hjr.0b013e32830e1e75. Published February 1, 2009.
- Ghareib SA, Bassossy HME-, Azhar A. 6-Gingerol alleviates exaggerated vasoconstriction in diabetic rat aorta through direct vasodilation and nitric oxide generation. Drug Design, Development and Therapy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4644177/. Published November 9, 2015.
- BF, M R, T H. Ginger extract consumption reduces plasma cholesterol, inhibits LDL oxidation and attenuates the development of atherosclerosis in atherosclerotic, apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. The Journal of nutrition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10801908/. Published May 2000.
- Fuller S, Stephens JM. Diosgenin, 4-Hydroxyisoleucine, and Fiber from Fenugreek: Mechanisms of Actions and Potential Effects on Metabolic Syndrome1,2. Advances in Nutrition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4352177/. Published March 5, 2015.
- Dhanapakiam P, Joseph JM, Ramaswamy VK, Moorthi M, Kumar AS. The cholesterol-lowering property of coriander seeds (Coriandrum sativum): mechanism of action. Journal of environmental biology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18831331. Published January 2008.