Heart Health Supplements: Do They Make a Difference?


Health supplements represent a very sizable market in U.S. consumer nutrition, but a good amount of the choices available have no medical oversight or industry review. Many supplements are generally self-regulated by the manufacturers, and the validity of their ingredients ends up only being objectively confirmed by third party testing. As a result, a significant portion of such products have been found to be essentially useless or provide little in the way of actual health benefit, passing through the digestive system without any positive impact.

Harvard Weighs In on Heart Supplements

At the beginning of 2023, Harvard Health published a noticeable article reflecting on the results of a recent peer-reviewed study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, released earlier in mid-2022. That study basically found that heart-specific supplements did little in the way of actually helping those who didn’t already have a heart disease condition. It was a small study of 190 subjects, ranging from middle age to senior level, and none of whom had any known heart conditions prior to testing. Each of the participants was screened for having high cholesterol and a 5-20 percent risk of developing heart disease over the following decade.

Using a test group versus placebo group model, the population was split up into 8 teams randomly. One group had a placebo, one was put on a statin pharmaceutical, and the remaining six groups had supplements. These heart-benefiting supplements were derived from organic sources with a combination of herbs, rice, fish oils, spices and plant ingredients. All of these components were high on the list of supplements that were advised to be heart-positive and help with reducing cholesterol levels.

Length of the Test and Results

The test ran for almost a month, 28 days specifically, and then the results were measured. The first group that had been prescribed the statin drug pharmaceutical realized a cholesterol reduction of a third, or 38 percent from their starting condition. The study nicely noted that the supplement groups did no better than the placebo group, which basically translated to no effect at all. While it is one study, Harvard Health was comfortable enough to publish a summary specifically stating heart supplements simply don’t have any positive impact and should be avoided.

Instead of Supplements, Eat Better & Get Moving

As a heart doctor for more than two decades, Ian Weisberg has consistently promoted practice advice for patients: eat healthily, reduce weight, exercise, and avoid a sedentary lifestyle. And even for patients with heart disease, the focus has been on reducing cholesterol, controlling blood pressure and reducing triggers for heart strain by avoiding fatty, saturated and salty foods. While the body can benefit from some supplements, the heart does better and shows more significant results with better treatment and targeted pharmaceutical help.

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