Are Vitamin and Mineral Supplements Necessary for a Healthy Heart?

Melanie Thomassian Health Pro
  • Do you take vitamin and mineral supplements? Many people do, particularly if they feel that their diet doesn’t meet up with government recommendations for health. But, did you know that healthy people can get adequate nutrients, by eating a variety of foods in moderation, rather than by taking supplements? (With the exception of omega-3 fatty acid supplements).

    Previous studies have suggested that lower rates of cardiovascular disease occur in populations using vitamin or mineral supplements. However, it is unclear if this was the result of the supplements themselves, or due to other factors, such as lower body weight, or increased physically activity.

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    The American Heart Association states that:

    “Scientific evidence does not suggest that consuming antioxidant vitamins can eliminate the need to reduce blood pressure, lower blood cholesterol or stop smoking cigarettes.”

    Therefore, antioxidant supplements are not recommended, however antioxidant food sources - especially plant-derived foods are recommended.

    Preventing heart disease

    A study published in JAMA (2002) stated, evidence indicates the most effective diet to protect against CHD included:

    • Non-hydrogenated unsaturated fats as the predominant form of dietary fat.
    • Whole grains as the main form of carbohydrates.
    • An abundance of fruits and vegetables.
    • Adequate omega-3 fatty acids can offer significant protection against CHD.
    • Also, regular physical activity, avoidance of smoking, and maintenance of a healthy body weight.

    When grocery shopping, opt for healthy food items, such as:

    • Fruits and vegetables
    • Oily fish
    • Garlic
    • Oats
    • Pulses
    • Wholegrains
    • Nuts and seeds
    • Olive oil

    Try to include these nutrients regularly:

    • Vitamin C: protects against oxidative damage. Examples include, citrus fruits, black currants, kiwi fruit, raspberries, melon, peppers, broccoli, and brussel sprouts.
    • Vitamin E: acts as an antioxidant particularly for fats; may improve circulation. Sources include, oils and margerines, fats of meats, chicken, fish, wheat germ, spinach, kale, nuts, sunflower seeds, and avocado.
    • Vitamin K: necessary for normal blood clotting. Sources include, spinach, salad greens, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, soybean oil, canola oil, and margarines.
    • Folate: helps maintain good heart health. Sources include, fortified cereals, cereals, vegetables (broccoli, legumes, leafy veggies), fruit (oranges), and pulses.
    • Selenium: acts as an antioxidant. Sources include, seafood, poultry, eggs, walnuts, lentils, sunflower seeds, and fish (tuna, sardines, salmon, cod, and sole).
    • Monounsaturated fatty acids: heart healthy type of fat. Sources include, olive oil, rapeseed oil, and groundnut oil.
    • Soluble fiber: may help to reduce blood cholesterol. Sources include, oats, pulses, fruits and vegetables.
    • Rich in omega-3s: known to be very beneficial for heart health. Sources include, salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, trout, and fresh tuna.

    If you’re wondering how to include more of these foods in your diet, below is a one-day sample menu plan:

  • Breakfast

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    • Porridge oats made with semi/skimmed milk, topped with a handful of dried fruit
    • Glass of fresh orange juice
    • Slice of wholegrain bread with olive based spread
    • Lunch
    • Mackerel salad (avocado, spinach leaves, tomato)
    • Wholemeal pita pocket
    • Mixed berries with natural yogurt, and sprinkling of seeds
    • Dinner
    • Lentil and bean stew
    • Mashed potatoes with olive oil
    • Kale or brussel sprouts
    • Apple
    • Suitable snacks
    • Vegetable crudités with reduced fat hummus
    • Mixed, unsalted nuts
    • Unbuttered/unsweetened popcorn
    • Multiseed bread with sliced banana

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    Melanie Thomassian is a professional dietitian, and author of the award winning

Published On: June 13, 2008