February is American Heart Month—a time to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease and be conscious of the decisions we make to live healthier lives. Each day, 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease, making it the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Heart disease causes one in four deaths each year. The good news is that there are actions we can take to lessen our risks. (1,2)
Eating a healthy diet and adding exercise to your weekly routine, are great places to start for improved health, but taking an antioxidant supplement can give your body an extra heart-protecting boost. Some of nature’s best antioxidants—grape seed extract, red wine extract, pine bark extract and green tea extract, make up a group of powerful antioxidant bioflavonoids called oligomeric proanthocyanidin compounds (OPC) that can help lower inflammation, promote healthy blood pressure levels, lower oxidation of cholesterol and efficiently scavenge free radicals.
Heart Healthy OPCs
Grape seed extract is among the most powerful antioxidants and is especially beneficial in conditions of heart disease. The extract increases the nitric oxide in your blood vessels which helps to dilate your blood vessels and allow your blood to flow easier—helping your body to maintain a stable blood pressure, which is crucial for a healthy heart function (3).
Red wine extract contains antioxidants that bind to LDL (bad cholesterol) to help prevent the oxidation of LDL and the formation of plaques—lowering the risk of heart disease. Resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red wine extract, is found to be helpful in reducing inflammation. Resveratrol also reduces the production of lipids, which can cause heart disease (4,5,6,7).
Pine bark extract is known for its strong antioxidant effects such as the abilities to help control blood lipids and blood pressure. In a study where patients used a form of pine bark extract called Pycnogenol, nearly 90 percent showed significant improvements in obesity and high blood pressure after just three months (8).
Green tea extract is rich in a particular group of flavonols called catechins with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Studies show that green tea extracts are efficient in protecting the blood vessels and preventing blood clots (9). Green tea extract has also demonstrated significant protection from heart diseases as well as help in weight management in individuals with obesity (10).
Adding Antioxidants to Your Diet
Living a healthy life comes down to the simple choices we make. Modest changes can help you start to feel your best, decrease pain, and add years onto your life. While many doctors would be quick to prescribe costly drugs to the 46% of Americans that suffer from high-blood pressure, there are natural alternatives. Making small changes to your diet and lifestyle, including adding antioxidants to your diet, can lower your risk of heart disease by 80 percent. The American Heart Association recommends consuming a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3s while limiting saturated and trans fats. Cutting back on added sugar and replacing refined carbohydrates with whole grains is also strongly recommended (1,3).
Visit The American Heart Association’s website for heart-healthy recipes and exercise tips.
If you are looking to reap the benefits of antioxidants, check out OPCXtra. Formulated with the best combination of bioflavonoids which support blood circulation and treat inflammatory conditions, OPCXtra is a super antioxidant drink mix that sources grape seed extract, red wine extract, pine bark extract and green tea extract to offer the best antioxidant effect.
Click here to learn more about OPCXtra and start taking steps to protect your heart!
American Heart Month. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2018, from https://healthfinder.gov/NHO/FebruaryToolkit.aspx
FEBRUARY is American Heart Month. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2018, from http://newsroom.heart.org/events/february-is-american-heart-month-6669831
Livingston, Bob. (2017, December 02). How to stay off the high blood pressure-drug path. Retrieved February 11, 2018, from https://personalliberty.com/stay-off-high-blood-pressure-drug-path/
Fuhrman B, Aviram M. Flavonoids protect LDL from oxidation and attenuate atherosclerosis. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2001;12:41–8.
Nigdikar SV, Williams NR, Griffin BA, Howard AN. Consumption of red wine polyphenols reduces the susceptibility of low-density lipoproteins to oxidation in vivo. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998;68:258–65.
Fuhrman B, Lavy A, Aviram M. Consumption of red wine with meals reduces the susceptibility of human plasma and low-density lipoprotein to lipid peroxidation. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995;61:549–54.
Schultz, Hank. (2017, November 06). Polyphenolics seeks to capture potentially mysterious benefits of red wine in extract. Retrieved February 11, 2018, from https://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Article/2017/11/06/Polyphenolics-seeks-to-capture-potentially-mysterious-benefits-of-red-wine-in-extract
Hubbard, S. B. (2016, July 21). Pycnogenol: This Superfood Combats Diabetes, Heart Disease. Retrieved February 11, 2018, from https://www.newsmax.com/Health/Headline/Pycnogenol-pine-bark-extract/2016/07/21/id/739900/
Stangl V, Lorenz M, Stangl K. The role of tea and tea flavonoids in cardiovascular health. Mol Nutr Food Res 2006;50:218-28
Nagao, T. et.al. Ingestion of a tea rich in catechins leads to a reduction in body fat and malondialdehyde-modified LDL in men. Am J Clin Nutr January 2005, Vol 81, 122- 129