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HEALTH Natural tips for a healthy heart

Cloves of garlic

Nature’s way to a happy, healthy heart

Ask The pharmacist
James Geraghty

Your heart is an amazing organ. It beats around 70 times a minute, non-stop for 100 years or more, pumping more than 10 million litres of blood around your body every year. Yet too many of us take it for granted.
Heart disease and diseases of the circulatory system account for one in every three deaths in Ireland and the UK every year – that’s just over a quarter of a million deaths annually. Perhaps the saddest statistic, however, is that many of these deaths might be preventable if we took better care of ourselves sooner rather than later.
A healthy diet really can work wonders for your heart, so you’re right to keep an eye on what you eat. Fresh fruit and veg are rich in potassium which helps to maintain low blood pressure; fibre (found in wholegrains, beans, pulses, nuts and seeds) helps to mop up cholesterol; and essential fatty acids (found in oily fish, nuts and seeds) help to keep blood thin and aid weight loss. Regular exercise, not smoking or drinking excessively will also help to keep your heart healthy.
However, Mother Nature does have a few tricks of her own up her sleeve:

  • Pycnogenol, French pine bark extract, has a natural blood-thinning effect with the ability to reduce high blood pressure.
  • The amino acid Lysine helps to maintain plaque-free blood vessels, especially when used in combination with vitamin C.
  • Magnesium helps to relax blood vessels and maintain healthy blood pressure.
  • Garlic has been shown to have a beneficial maintenance effect on blood pressure, and natural vitamin E helps to keep the blood thin.
  • Co-enzyme Q10 is another important heart nutrient. A brilliant antioxidant, it helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, reduce damage to the arteries and lower high blood pressure. Although the body does make its own supply of Co-Q10, amounts decline with age, and so a supplement may be a good idea. Certain medication, statins for example, can also block the production of Co-Q10; try Viridian’s Co-Enzyme Q10 with MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides, which can help with weight control).
  • Arginine is another important nutrient, needed by the body to make nitric oxide, a substance that allows blood vessels to relax, so it can help to reduce blood pressure.
  • Finally, make sure you stay topped up on your B vits. Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid can help to maintain healthy homocysteine levels in the blood, which are essential for a healthy heart. Homocysteine is a toxic amino acid produced in our bodies by the incomplete breakdown of excess protein, and is a major risk factor for heart disease. B-Complex contains all the different B vitamins, which work best in combination.

James Geraghty is the managing director of the Molloy’s Lifestyle Pharmacy Group. He has a degree in biochemistry and pharmacy, as well as 15 years’ experience of the health industry. A huge believer in the importance of exercise and wellbeing, he regularly lectures to active retirement and special interest groups around the county.