Get to the heart of better health

Beef contains coenzyme Q10, which supplies cells with energy.
Beef contains coenzyme Q10, which supplies cells with energy.

February is National Heart Month and the perfect time to consider what small changes can be made to improve your heart health.

Whether you are male or female, young or old, heart disease is affecting more of us year on year. Statistics from the British Heart Foundation reveal that cardiovascular (heart and circulatory) disease causes 27 per cent of all deaths in the UK, or around 155,000 deaths each year. That’s an average of one person every three minutes.

We all know there is a link between nutrition and good health, but do we really understand the nutrients that can help to strengthen our heart?

Michelle Winspear, from Advanced Nutrition in Sanderson Arcade, gives some advice to help you improve your heart health.

Consider your diet

Major contributory factors to cardiovascular disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and poor diet. A reliance on convenience foods, which are often depleted in essential nutrients, and a high intake of saturated fat and sugar, can have an impact on heart health.

If choosing a fish oil supplement look for oil from the flesh of the fish, rather than the liver as it has a reduced risk of environmental impurities.

Some vitamins and minerals can play a role in heart health. For example, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (from fish oil) have beneficial effects on high blood pressure, as well as reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and irregular heartbeat.

If choosing a fish oil supplement look for oil from the flesh of the fish, rather than the liver as it has a reduced risk of environmental impurities.

Power your heart

A vitamin-like substance called coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is important in the process of supplying cells with energy, particularly for tissues with a high energy requirement, such as cardiac muscle. Patients with heart disorders invariably have depleted levels of CoQ10.

Although some is obtained from the normal diet in foods such as liver, beef and sardines, most is produced within the body. The capacity of the body to produce CoQ10 decreases from our mid-20s. Levels can also be impacted by prescription medicines, such as statins, and chronic illness.

Many people choose to take a supplement, not only to improve their energy levels, but to help in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

In a recent clinical study involving 420 patients with heart failure, there were 43 per cent fewer deaths from heart-related conditions in the group taking Pharma Nord’s Bio-Quinone Active Q10. CoQ10 is fat-soluble so take an oil-based capsule for best absorption.

Free radicals

Selenium is found in foods such as brazil nuts, wheat products and tuna. It has two important roles in cardiovascular health.

CoQ10 must continually convert between two forms — ubiquinone and ubiquinol — and selenium assists in this process. It is also a powerful antioxidant precursor, protecting cardiac cells from damaging free radicals.

If choosing a supplement, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has found that selenium from organic sources, such as the selenium yeast SelenoPrecise, is more easily absorbed by the body than inorganic forms.