World Heart Day 2021: 10 Micronutrients for a Healthy Heart!

Written & Medically Verified by Dr. Sachintha Ferdinandusz, MD
Reviewed by Sabiha Ladak, MSc Public Health

Approximately 2 billion people worldwide have some form of micronutrient deficiency [1]. A majority of them suffer from anemia.

Anemia, together with other conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high levels of ‘unhealthy’ cholesterol, often leads to significantly bad effects on heart health

However, a diet rich in micronutrients can ensure a good supply of healthy red blood cells, a stable blood pressure, controlled sugar levels, and adequate levels of healthy cholesterol!

In honor of World Heart Day, Dr. Ferdinandusz recommends including the following essential micronutrients in your heart-healthy diet:

1. Vitamin B

Includes B1 (Thiamin), B2 (Riboflavin) B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic acid), B6 (Pyridoxine), B7 (Biotin), B9 (Folate), and B12 (Cyanocobalamin). Numerous studies have suggested that Vitamin B may lower homocysteine levels in the body, which is known to damage the lining of arteries, leading to blood clots [2].

2. Vitamin C

Known to prevent the reaction of oxygen with unhealthy (bad) LDL cholesterol, thereby reducing the deposition of fat and cholesterol onto the walls of arteries [3].

3. Vitamin D

Deficiency is present in almost 50% of the world’s population. Inflammation in the body promotes the formation of fat plaques on artery walls, and Vitamin D helps to reduce inflammation at the cellular level, ultimately reducing the formation of these plaques [4].

4. Vitamin E

Provides cardiovascular benefits by reducing inflammation, fat deposits on arterial walls, and arterial damage [5].

5. Zinc

Protects the heart from oxidative stress and improves cardiac function to limit further damage [6].

6. Magnesium

Essential for a regular rhythmic heartbeat and is also involved in the regulation of sugar metabolism in the body [7].

7. Selenium

Acts as a powerful antioxidant and reduces the damaging effects of free radicals (unstable atoms) and oxidative stress on various organs in the body, including the heart. For example, an analysis of 25 observational studies found that a 50% increase in blood selenium concentrations was associated with a 24% reduction in heart disease risk [8, 9]. 

8. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Known to lower triglyceride levels, resting blood pressure, the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythm), and increase HDL (good) cholesterol [10].

9. Carotenoids

Compounds which give certain foods their bright yellow, orange, red, and purple color. They are extremely important for clear vision and have excellent antioxidant properties which help protect heart health [11].

10. Phenolic Compounds

Found in most plants and have been associated with the prevention of several diseases, including coronary heart disease [12].


Not sure which foods contain the micronutrients listed above? Check out our handy wheel and table below!


References:
1. The Global Burden of Anemia. Hematology/Oncology Clinics of North America. 2016. Cited 7 September 2021. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889858815001896?via%3Dihub
2. The Role of Homocysteine-Lowering B-Vitamins in the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease. Cardiovascular Therapeutics. 2014. Cited 7 September 2021. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1755-5922.12064
3. Vitamin C and Heart Health: A Review Based on Findings from Epidemiologic Studies. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2016. Internet. Cited 7 September 2021. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/17/8/1328/htm
4. Vitamin D: Not Just Bone Metabolism but a Key Player in Cardiovascular Diseases. Life. 2021. Cited 7 September 2021. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2075-1729/11/5/452/htm
5. Vitamin E: Regulatory role in the cardiovascular system. IUBMB Life. 2021. Cited 7 September 2021. Available from: https://iubmb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/iub.2020
6. The Relationship between Serum Zinc Level and Heart Failure: A Meta-Analysis. BioMed Research International. 2018. Internet. Cited 7 September 2021. Available from: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2018/2739014/
7. Magnesium for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Open Heart. 2018. Cited 7 September 2021. Available from: https://openheart.bmj.com/content/5/2/e000775.info
8. Selenium status and cardiovascular diseases: meta-analysis of prospective observational studies and randomized controlled trials. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2015. Cited 7 September 2021. Available from: https://www.nature.com/articles/ejcn201578
9. Selenium and coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2006. Internet. Cited 8 September 2021. 84(4):762-773. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17023702/
10. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Heart Health. Circulation. 2015. Cited 7 September 2021. Available from: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.015176
11. Carotenoids and cardiovascular health. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2006. Cited 7 September 2021. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/83/6/1265/4632969?login=true
12. Food Phenolic Compounds: Main Classes, Sources and Their Antioxidant Power. IntechOpen. 2013. Internet. Cited 5 September 2021. Available from: https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/38573
13. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets. National Institutes of Health. Cited 5 September 2021. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/list-all/
14. Indian Food Composition Database. National Institute of Nutrition. 2017. Cited 7 September 2021. Available from: http://www.ifct2017.com/frame.php?page=food