Many nutrients work together in synergy to promote and maintain the proper cardiovascular system's functions. This is why it is important to include nutrient-rich foods into the diet to get all heart health benefits from food.
Some of the most heart-protective nutrients that may improve heart health include magnesium, vitamin B6, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, folic acid, vitamin C, Vitamin K, potassium, and calcium.
Magnesium and calcium play a role in the biochemical reactions in a heart muscle that generate a heartbeat. Calcium stimulates the muscle fibers of the myocardium to shorten and contract, while magnesium has the opposite effect.
The omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B6 aid in producing hormones that help prevent blood clots, decrease inflammation, and regulate blood pressure.
Folic acid (or folate) helps break down certain amino acids that are related to heart disease.
Vitamin K may reduce arterial stiffness and slow the progression of vascular calcification, while vitamin D and C helps to manage blood pressure.
Even though sodium is an essential mineral, a high intake of this nutrient can raise blood pressure significantly. Thus another mineral – potassium – is important in a heart-healthy diet, as it reduces the effects of sodium on blood pressure.