Keeping your heart and blood vessels healthy prevents many serious illnesses and enhances longevity. Many factors influence the heart and the circulation. Unfortunately, the stresses of modern life, coupled with poor nutrition and inactivity, put us at risk for several heart and blood vessel problems. As a result, heart attacks, strokes and other life-threatening cardiovascular conditions abound. Herbs may be used as a very important part of a wellness plan to enhance the health of your heart and blood vessels.
Cholesterol and Triglycerides
Low density lipoprotein cholesterol, also known as LDL or bad cholesterol, begins as a sticky substance that builds inside the walls of blood vessels. It hardens over time, creating rough surfaces and inflexible blood vessels. As a result, blood vessels harden and contribute to high blood pressure, blood clots, heart attacks and strokes. Blood flow throughout the entire body is impaired.
High density lipoprotein cholesterol, also known as HDL or good cholesterol, protects the heart and blood vessels from damage due to LDL buildup and other factors.
Triglycerides are other kinds of fats in the blood. Many experts believe that elevated triglyceride levels are a more important predictor of cardiovascular disease than elevated levels of LDL cholesterol.
Several herbs which are used to reduce harmful cholesterol and triglyceride levels are right in your own kitchen. Others may be grown easily or gathered from the wild.
Herbal Foods With Cardiovascular Benefits
1. Shiitake mushrooms reduce inflammation, and lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Many large grocery stores sell fresh shiitakes. I keep dried ones on hand, too. Several companies offer kits which provide you with opportunities to grow your own. Shiitakes are one of the most valuable herbal foods available, in my opinion.
2. Flax seed binds with excess cholesterol and aids in its elimination from the body. Flax seed may be obtained in large grocery stores. It is very inexpensive. Flax also reduces inflammation, a major contributor to heart and blood vessel disease. Simply grind two tablespoons of flax seed each day. Add it to cereals, smoothies or yogurt. Do not purchase ground flax meal. Flax loses its healing benefits quickly when ground or heated. It is easy to grind in a coffee grinder reserved for herbs.
3. Garlic has been studied extensively for its many healing benefits. Garlic’s relatives — onions, shallots, leeks and chives — offer healing benefits as well; however, the active compounds in garlic are the most potent. Researchers have discovered that while garlic reduces LDL and triglyceride levels, the herbal food does much more to ensure cardiovascular health. Garlic lowers blood pressure and even relieves leg cramps which are due to poor circulation. Garlic tablets and capsules are available for purchase, but I recommend eating at least one clove daily for maximum benefits and economy. Either eat the garlic raw or lightly sautéed. This way you will retain all of the healing powers of this wonderful herbal food.
4. All peppers are beneficial for the cardiovascular system as they contain fiber and high amounts of vitamin C, a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Cayenne pepper has been studied extensively. I believe that any other hot peppers likely offer similar benefits. Cayenne helps to increase the efficiency and strength of the heartbeat, without increasing the blood pressure. It prevents harmful blood clots from forming. Blood clots are responsible for several life threatening conditions, such as strokes, heart attacks and pulmonary emboli. Cayenne prevents hardening of the arteries and relaxes the blood vessels. This helps to decrease blood pressure and relieve leg pain due to poor circulation. Again, I believe that the best way to reap the healing benefits of this herbal food is to simply include cayenne in your diet. Be careful if you are preparing fresh peppers, as they can cause burns. Some people with digestive issues are unable to tolerate cayenne.
5. Did you realize that black pepper reduces cholesterol levels? It improves the circulation of the entire body and has been used to relieve hypertension, high blood pressure. Like many other herbal remedies for cholesterol, black pepper is considered to be an herbal stimulant. It enhances the circulation of the entire body and improves blood pressure.
Wild Herbal Remedies for Heart Health
6. Hawthorn is an amazing herb. The berries may be gathered from the wild. Just be sure that you correctly identify the bush. I think of hawthorn as a kind of “miracle herb” If your blood pressure is too low and you consume a little bit of hawthorn, it will bring it up to a healthy range. On the other hand, if it is too high, you can lower high blood pressure by consuming a larger amount of the berries. Hawthorn reduces unhealthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels, too.
7. Motherwort is an easy to grow herb which can sometimes be found in the wild. It is a relaxing herb that offers health benefits for the circulatory system and the entire body.
8. Kudzu may be “the vine that ate the south,” but it has some redeeming qualities. Kudzu root extract lowers blood pressure, unhealthy triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Kudzu reduces the pain of angina by improving the circulation within the heart itself. Historically, kudzu was used to relieve irregular heartbeats and reduce rapid heart rates.
9. Dandelion leaf reduces edema, excess swelling in the body, which can stress the heart. Unlike pharmaceutical diuretic drugs which rid the body of needed potassium, dandelion leaf is a great source of potassium and other nutrients.
These are just a few of the many herbal remedies which we have available to use to improve heart and blood vessel health. Include a wide array of culinary herbs in your diet, as many of them offer health benefits to the heart, circulation and entire body. By incorporating herbs as part of your wellness plan, you will feel better and prevent serious illnesses from impacting the life of you and your loved ones.