To optimize heart health, eat a balanced diet rich in vegetables and fruits, exercise regularly, and supplement with astaxanthin. But first, let’s take a look at the importance of the endothelium, the largest endocrine organ in the body.
Understanding the Endothelium
The endothelium is the lining of blood vessels and it’s responsible for producing most of the hormones in the body, regulating blood pressure, and regulating blood clotting. Unhealthy lifestyle habits (e.g. smoking, drinking alcohol, eating foods high in trans-fat, not exercising) can lead to the blocking or slowing down of blood flow along the endothelium. If the endothelium is blocked by plaque or a fatty deposit, it can’t release hormones and other substances that regulate blood flow and clotting. Both health and life span depend on a healthy endothelium so it’s important to eat right, exercise, and increase your antioxidant intake with astaxanthin.
Eat a Well Balanced Diet
The heart benefits from receiving plentiful portions of fruits, vegetables and omega 3 fatty acids. These foods can provide the heart with the nutrients it needs to repair cellular damage and protect the body from the development of heart disease.
• Foods high in omega 3 fatty acids – Fatty fish such as salmon, trout, or albacore tuna are good seafood sources for omega 3. For the best value, we recommend eating wild caught salmon, since it high in omega 3 but it also contains the super antioxidant astaxanthin. Other foods that are good sources of omega 3 are nuts like almonds or walnuts, seeds such as flaxseed, and oil such as extra virgin olive oil.
• Berries – Berries are packed full of heart healthy phytonutrients. Another reason to eat berries is that they contain more fiber than many other fruits, are low in sugar, and most are low in carbohydrates. If possible, buy organic as berries can be heavily sprayed with pesticides.
• Vegetables – This food group is an obvious choice for a healthy lifestyle, and it’s no different when it comes to supporting heart health. Vegetables rich in colors like red, yellow, and orange contain carotenoids and vitamins. Good choices are carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers and squash. But don’t leave out your green choices – broccoli, spinach, and asparagus are also heart healthy veggies.
• Dark Chocolate – Indulging in a little dark chocolate (at least 70% +) can actually be good for your heart. Studies have shown that it may improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, and may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.1
Cardiovascular exercise is key to strengthening the heart and creating an optimally flowing bloodstream. You don’t need to be a workout warrior to obtain the health benefits of exercise for your heart. Simply exercising to maintain an elevated heart rate for 30 minutes a day can be incredibly beneficial to your body. Some good cardiovascular exercises include:
• Gym Activities – Most gyms have many options for cardiovascular exercise including the treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, stair stepper, circuit training, aerobics classes, plyometric exercises, jumping rope, interval training and more. Gyms often have training available to offer direction and help when you're looking to expand your cardiovascular exercise repertoire.
• Sports – Competitive and team sports are another way to enjoy cardiovascular exercise. Sports such as basketball, soccer, football, swimming, water polo, hockey, and tennis are good examples. Another benefit from sports is that they allow for fun and friendship, two other life factors that are important for heart health.
• Outdoor Activities - The great outdoors provides other activities that boost cardiovascular health. Walking, hiking, trail running, cycling, mountain biking, skiing, rock climbing, and surfing are all great options for getting the heart rate elevated over extended periods of time.
Supplement with Astaxanthin
Astaxanthin, an antioxidant derived from microalgae or certain red seafood like salmon, is a powerful antioxidant that among its many benefits, can help keep your heart strong. Key indicators of heart health are measured by CRP levels, cholesterol, and blood lipid levels. Astaxanthin can help support the heart with no side effects.
• Astaxanthin helps keep blood lipid levels at a normal range. The first human clinical trial was done in Japan on astaxanthin’s ability to control blood lipids. The study found a very promising effect on LDL (bad cholesterol) oxidation lag time.2 Another study done in Europe showed that astaxanthin decreased average total cholesterol as well as LDL of 17% and an average decrease of triglycerides of 24%.3 Later studies confirmed that astaxanthin helps improve blood lipid profiles, specifically decreased triglycerides and increased HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).4
• Astaxanthin supports healthy blood flow. Two human studies have shown promising results in the area of supporting healthy blood flow. A study on adults with metabolic syndrome showed that astaxanthin supported healthy blood by promoting arterial health.5,6 The other study showed that supplementing with 6mg of astaxanthin per day for only ten days showed a significant improvement in blood flow.7
• Astaxanthin helps reduce fatty acids in the blood. Participants in this study were given 8 mg of astaxanthin per day and concluded that astaxanthin significantly reduced the levels of two hydroxyl fatty acids in the subjects’ blood plasma.8
• Astaxanthin keeps CRP levels at a normal range. Doctors commonly use the blood marker C-reactive protein (CRP) to detect stress in the body. When the body is experiencing pain caused by excess oxidation, CRP is released into the blood stream by the liver to help combat the stress. A human study showed that subjects given astaxanthin for 8 weeks experienced a 20 percent reduction in CRP levels.9
• Astaxanthin keeps the endothelium smooth. In an animal study, scientists discovered that astaxanthin could help relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure.10, 11 Although this study was done on rats and the same results cannot be deduced in humans, it shows potential for promising future research in humans.
While the benefits astaxanthin provides to the heart are clear to see, some scientists at the University of Hawaii’s Medical School dug deeper to find out more details as to why astaxanthin is so good for the heart. After reviewing the data on astaxanthin and heart health, these scientists concluded that most of the cardiovascular benefits of astaxanthin are due to its antioxidant effects. The scientists noted that due to natural astaxanthin’s unique molecular structure, it would most likely yield much better results than other traditional antioxidants such as vitamin E or beta carotene. Astaxanthin decreases oxidative stress on the heart and blood vessels to support cardiovascular health.12
These are just a few tips to help keep your heart healthy, but following them along with your doctor’s recommendations can help add quality and years to your life.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns about your health. Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise or nutrition program. Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice because of something you have heard or read in this article or the internet.
1. Authority Nutrition. 7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate. Retrieved form https://authoritynutrition.com/7-health-benefits-dark-chocolate/
2. Iwamoto, T., et al. (2000). Inhibition of low-density lipoprotein oxidation by astaxanthin. Journal of Atherosclerosis Thrombosis. 7(4):216-22.
3. Trimeks Company Study (2003). On file at Cyanotech Corporation and www.astaxanthin.org.
4. Yoshida, H., et al. (2010). Administration of Natural Astaxanthin Increases Serum HDL Cholesterol and Adiponectin in Subjects with Mild Hyperlipidemia. Atherosclerosis. Vol. 209, pp. 520-523.
5. Satoh, A., et al. (2009). Preliminary Clinical Evaluation of Toxicity and Efficacy of a New Astaxanthin-Rich Haematococcus pluvialis Extract. Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, Vol. 44, No. 3, pp. 280-284.
6. Fassett, RG., et al. (2008). Astaxanthin Versus Placebo on Arterial Stiffness, Oxidative Stress, and Inflammation in Renal Transplant Patients: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. BMC Nephrology, Vol. 9, p. 17.
7. Miyawaki, H., et al. (2008). Effects of Astaxanthin on Human Blood Rheology. Journal of Clinical Biochemistry Nutrition, Vol. 43, No. 2, pp. 9-74.
8. Karppi, J., et al. (2007). Effects of Astaxanthin Supplementation on Lipid Peroxidation. International Journal for Vitamin Nutrition Research. 77(1):3-11.
9. Siller, G., et al. (2006). Effects of Daily Use of Natural Astaxanthin on C-Reactive Protein. Health Research and Studies Center. Los Altos, CA. Access at www.astaxanthin.org.
10. Hussein, G., et al. (2005). Anti-Hyertensive and Neuroprotective Effects of Astaxanthin in Experimental Animals. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 47-52.
11. Hussein G., et al. (2006). Anti-Hypertensive Potential and Mechanism of Action of Astaxanthin II: Vascular Reactivity and Hemorheology in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 6, pp. 967-971.
12. Pashkow, FJ., et al. (2010). Astaxanthin: A Novel Potential Treatment for Oxidative Stress and Inflammation and Cardiovascular Disease. The American Journal of Cardiology, Vol. 101, No. 10a, pp. 58d-68d.