Don’t Miss a Beat in Managing your Heart Health

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has brought an increased focus on health and wellness amongst the general public. Recent studies show that this virus could increase risks of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), particularly among people with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions or lifestyles.

In Asia, this is a concerning development given that CVD was already the leading cause of 10.8 million deaths in 2019, or approximately 35% of the total deaths in the region. Hence, the importance of maintaining and boosting heart health cannot be ignored.

A balanced diet and regular physical activity are the paramount recommendations to maintain a healthy heart. Here are some nutrition tips to get you started on this journey, for a healthier life now and into the future.


Omega-3 is helpful in maintaining healthy vascular performance due to its ability to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation is often responsible for the occurrence of heart diseases and strokes as it tends to restrict blood flow through the vascular system.

Foods like fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, and tuna), flaxseeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and soybeans are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Not only is fish a great substitute for foods like beef, which is high in saturated fat, the omega-3s also help to support a healthy cardiovascular system by helping to lower triglyceride levels.

Consuming plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids supplements can also be useful for vegetarians, as these are primarily found in fish.

Nitric Oxide

Although still largely unfamiliar among the general public, the importance of the molecule nitric oxide is critical in supporting good heart health. Nitric oxide is a molecule that helps all the cells in our body to communicate with each other. It is a vital component of our arteries and other organs that restores arterial elasticity and promotes vasodilation, which means the widening of blood vessels resulting from relaxation of the muscular walls of the vessels.

The intake of arginine, which can be found in protein-rich foods such as nuts, fish, meats, dairy, and multigrain, can boost your nitric oxide production. In addition, vitamins C and E, alpha lipoic acid, and folic acid are several nutritional supplements that can help too.


Flavanols, which are naturally occurring compounds found in plants, can support cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure, and improve nitric oxide production and arterial function.

Flavanols are found in foods like berries, cocoa (dark chocolate), kale, and tea to name a few sources of high concentration.

To profit from flavanols found in cocoa, it is recommended that cocoa flavanols be consumed daily from sources such as cocoa powder (2.5 g), dark chocolate (10 g), and/or cocoa extract (200 mg). For health-conscious individuals, selecting chocolate products with less sugar and fat would allow them to reap maximum benefits from cocoa flavanols.

Similarly, studies have shown that drinking green or black tea may have beneficial effects on blood pressure in people with pre- and hypertensive ranges. Furthermore, tea consumption can benefit people with type 2 diabetes, which contributes to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.


Contributed by Dr Alex Teo, Director, Research & Development and Scientific Affairs, Asia Pacific, Herbalife Nutrition

Images: Envato and Unsplash

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