Advice for heart health can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.
While cardiovascular wellness is dependent on so many different factors, making healthy adjustments to modifiable risk factors (things you can change) like diet and exercise can go a long way in helping to keep your heart healthy.
You can take the benefits even further with unique ingredients that work with your body to optimize your heart health and support overall wellness.
This blog post will discuss these three ingredients—magnesium, l-arginine, and garlic—and the reasons why they are so helpful for healthy cardiovascular function.
Magnesium: The Relaxation Mineral
Magnesium is a critical mineral for so many functions in your body, including your cardiovascular system. Among its many other jobs in your body, magnesium helps regulate heart rhythm and healthy blood flow inside your body.i
Magnesium helps move electrolytes like calcium and potassium into your cells.
Together, all these electrolytes are required for healthy nerve signaling and muscle contraction inside your heart. It’s also associated with healthy cholesterol levels, especially HDL, which is considered heart protective.ii
Magnesium also increases nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide is a compound essential for relaxing your blood vessels (vasodilation) to maintain healthy blood flow.iii
In contrast, suboptimal magnesium levels can increase the risk of heart-related health problems.iv A large review study found that magnesium deficiency is a possible risk factor for cardiovascular concerns. As a result, the researchers suggested that screening magnesium levels should be part of a regular part of a holistic plan to support cardiovascular health.v
Since nutrients work synergistically together to support your health, the effect on heart health may be even more pronounced if you also eat potassium-rich foods while decreasing your sodium intake at the same time.vi Foods high in magnesium and potassium include legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
Supplementing with magnesium appears to be especially effective for people who are already low in the mineral or not getting enough in their diet.vii
L-arginine: The Heart-Health Supporting Amino Acid
Like magnesium, L-arginine is an amino acid that supports healthy blood flow and nitric oxide levels. It’s often used by athletes to support nitric oxide levels.viii For athletes, nitric oxide could promote oxygen delivery to the muscles.
Nitric oxide also supports healthy mitochondrial function.ix Mitochondria are our cells’ energy producers, and optimizing mitochondrial health is associated with healthy aging.x
You may also see an L-arginine precursor, L-citrulline, used instead in supplements. A precursor means it’s used to help form L-arginine in your body. L-citrulline is well absorbed and has been shown to increase arginine levels and improve blood flow.xi
A review found that L-arginine helped with healthy blood flow.xii Another study reported that a combination supplement of L-citrulline and L-arginine (from watermelon, which is high in L-citrulline supported healthy blood flow after six weeks of taking it.xiii
Since L-arginine is an amino acid, you can find it in protein-rich foods like meat, chicken, fish, soy, or legumes, but supplements can provide a larger dose.
Garlic: The Heart-Supporting Vegetable
The list of garlic’s potential healing properties goes beyond your typical vegetable. From heart health to immune support, garlic has a rich history in traditional therapies and current research.xiv
What’s in garlic that benefits us so much? It’s full of sulfur compounds that are released when it’s cut or crushed. These sulfide compounds give garlic its distinct smell. But the scent is also indicative of the health-promoting properties. It also contains antioxidants that help keep your cells healthy.xv
A meta-analysis that included twenty trials with more than 900 participants concluded that garlic supplements can support healthy blood flow and help stimulate the immune system.xvi
Garlic supplementation may also support healthy cholesterol levels, including small increases in HDL cholesterol (which is heart protective as mentioned above) and slight decreases in LDL, or what is often called “bad” cholesterol.xvii Another review found similar positive results for healthy cholesterol levels, although the effect on HDL was not significant.xviii
You can get started right away by using garlic in your cooking. Slicing and letting garlic sit out for a few minutes before cooking can help release the sulfur compounds. Garlic supplements may provide an additional dose for extra benefits. And aside from potentially giving you garlic breath, supplements appear very well-tolerated and safe.
Use These Three Ingredients in Combination with a Healthy Lifestyle
Magnesium, L-arginine, and garlic are all well-researched options to support your heart. All three of these options appear to be safe with minimal side effects, but it’s always a good idea to talk with your healthcare practitioner before starting a new supplement.
Heart health isn’t about one factor but requires a holistic approach. Diet, exercise, stress management, and sleep are equally important. But if you are interested in even more support, consider adding these three ingredients through your diet or as part of your daily supplements.
Caitlin Beale, MS, RDN is a registered dietitian and freelance health writer. She has a master's degree in nutrition and over ten years of experience as a registered dietitian. You can learn more about Caitlin Beale, MS, RDN at www.caitlinbealewellness.com.
+The views expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not reflect the opinions or views of Pure Encapsulations®.