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A Healthy Heart for A Hearty Season: A few small tips to ensure your heart is at its best this winter

We hear a lot about hearts this season. It’s the time of year that giving is on our minds. We open our hearts and homes to family and friends, and think about showing our generosity more than at any other time of year. But what about your own heart? Are you at your own personal optimal health? With the season of celebrating and giving upon us, give yourself the very best care. 

The traditional heavy diet and abundant treats of winter surround us. Try supplementing your food with some of these suggestions that can boost your heart health. Lower cholesterol, increase circulation, and fend of illness with these simple herbal and supplemental suggestions:

Red Yeast Rice:  Red yeast rice originated over a thousand years ago in China. It is produced when a purple-colored yeast, Monascus purpureus, is added to steamed rice and the mixture is fermented. This product has been used as a food since at least the year 800 A.D. Also known to aid digestion, red yeast rice has long been used in folk medicine. Red yeast rice contains statins, a molecule known to reduce cholesterol. The most prevalent of the statins in red yeast rice is lovastatin, which is one of the most widely prescribed drugs for lowering cholesterol levels. Red yeast rice can be used just like other forms of rice in your cooking or as a pill tablet.

Garlic: Affectionately called the stinking rose by those who love its culinary uses, most people don’t think of garlic as a medicinal herb. Still, it has been used for thousands of years as a treatment for a wide range of conditions. Some of those uses include infections, wound healing and tumors. Today, we know that garlic lovers can boast about their lowered cholesterol and blood pressure. The National Cancer Institute is now looking at garlic’s ability to fight several forms of cancer, including stomach and colon cancers.

Rosemary and Chamomile: Both these herbs can decrease cholesterol and blood pressure. Try adding some rosemary to your dishes when you cook, or drinking some chamomile tea (also wonderful to take right before bed as it’s very calming and can help with sleep).

Bilberry: A close relative to the cranberry, the fruit contains anthocyansides, which is a type of flavonoid that helps with blood flow by strengthening capillaries. In fact, research has shown that bilberry not only strengthens coronary arteries but works on the tiniest capillaries in our eyes, which results in vision improvements. Its strong antioxidant properties make it a great tonic for overall health. Bilberry can be found in supplemental pill form at any local health food store.

Hawthorn: Many herbalists consider hawthorn to be one of the best heart tonics on the planet. What’s more it’s helpful for all sorts of heart conditions including arrhythmia and enlarged heart. Although hawthorn hasn’t been shown to reverse heart conditions, it will increase and strengthen deteriorated heart muscle. If you have a healthy heart and want to keep it that way, hawthorn can benefit by reducing cholesterol buildup in artery walls and lowering blood pressure. In Germany, hawthorn is very popular since studies conducted by its Federal Ministry of Health has shown that it gently dilates coronary arteries to help circulation within the heart itself. Hawthorn can be eaten as an herb (used to flavor food or in a tea), or be consumed as a supplement in pill form.

Cayenne: If you like hot and spicy, adding this pepper to your list of heart herbs won’t be hard. It is available in powder, capsules and tinctures. Many herbalists think that cayenne should be added to all herbal preparations because it gets blood flow going so quickly. When some part of the body is ill, blood plays a key role as a delivery system. The blood has to get to the problem area to bring it the nutrition and healing elements it needs. Cayenne is remarkable for getting blood circulation going. Cayenne makes its way through any mucus that might be blocking veins, which in turns helps to lower blood pressure.

Fish Oil Supplements:  Fish oil supplements contain omega 3 fatty acids. These healthy fats have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce triglycerides, and prevent heart rhythm abnormalities. Fish oil can be consumed in fish like salmon and halibut, where it’s found to be high in dose, or daily as a pill. You can find it in any health food store.

Ginkgo Biloba: Most have already heard about this herb’s ability to improve brain function. That’s because it works so wonderfully on circulation by getting arteries, capillaries and veins to dilate (enlarge), where needed.  In addition, it inhibits blood from forming clots and stops free radicals from causing damage to vascular walls. Ginkgo Biloba is most commonly consumed as a pill tablet.

Millions of people have some form of cardiovascular disease. Many of us are making healthy life changes. Adding some of the best heart and circulatory herbs available will enhance your efforts. 

 

 

SOURCES

National Institute of Health
On Fish Oil: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/993.html

National Cancer Institute
On Garlic: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/prevention/garlic-and-cancer-prevention

Healthy.net
On Hawthorn (properties and how to consume): http://www.healthy.net/scr/mmedica.aspx?MTId=1&;Id=223

Livestrong.com
On Gingko Biloba and Heart Health: http://www.livestrong.com/article/429154-ginkgo-biloba-heart-health/

National Institute of Health
Bilberry for Circulation: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/202.html

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