Beating about 1,00,000 times every day, pumping out about 2,000 gallons of blood through blood vessels that together make up a distance of around 60,000 miles – those are some of the characteristics of the human heart when it’s at its peak. Any problem that affects the pumping ability of the heart is likely to cause it to work even harder; when this happens, it paves the way for heart disease that is potentially life-threatening.
So, it’s important to ensure your heart stays healthy through regular exercise and by eating the right type of food. Several herbs also promote heart health and you would do well to consider adding them to your diet.
One of India’s wonder plants, garlic has a host of medicinal properties that make it a truly miraculous herb. Studies have found that a single clove of garlic consumed every day can help to reduce the production of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, raise the production of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol and also keep blood pressure within normal limits. Some researchers have also found that people who are regular consumers of garlic are more likely to have better blood circulation and lesser chances of harmful blood platelet aggregation. Read about the health benefits of garlic.
Cayenne (Lal Mirch)
You probably use cayenne to spice up your curries but did you know that it’s also good for the heart? This spice contains a substance called capsaicin that has been shown to improve the elasticity of the blood vessels, helping them stay healthy. More importantly, it reduces the chances of blood clot formation and also lowers levels of LDL cholesterol. Overall, cayenne improves the functioning of the cardiovascular system and keeps blood pressure within the normal range.
Although it’s best known for its digestive and anti-flatulent properties, ginger is increasingly gaining recognition as a herb that promotes heart health. Studies have shown that ginger is capable of preventing formation of clots, improving blood circulation and lowering LDL cholesterol levels. In fact, certain laboratory studies have found ginger to be more effective than the drug aspirin as a blood clot preventer. Read about the health benefits of ginger.
Green tea is prepared from unfermented tea leaves that have a slight bitter flavour. When compared to black tea, green tea is rich in an antioxidant substance called epigallo catechin gallate. This antioxidant has been found to improve the health of the cells that form the innermost lining of the blood vessels and the heart. Studies have also shown that green tea reduces the formation of ‘bad’ cholesterol and prevents rise in blood pressure. Regular consumption of about 3 to 4 cups of green tea per day is believed to keep the heart and blood vessels in good shape, and can help you cut down on the risks of developing heart disease. Read about the health benefits of green tea.
Arjuna Bark (Kaugach)
The bark of the Arjuna tree contains several important chemical constituents such as tannins, triterpenoid saponins and flavonoids and these have been found to have a cardio-protective action. According to Ayurveda, Arjuna is said to be a strong cardiotonic drug. Now, researchers are finding that extracts from Arjuna bark can act as well as nitroglycerine during an angina attack; they also help to lower LDL cholesterol, raise HDL cholesterol and reduce blood pressure. A small bark piece can be soaked in water overnight and then boiled in the morning to yield a decoction. The same bark piece can be dried and used for three consecutive days. Drinking this decoction regularly will help to maintain a healthy heart function.
(Guggulu or Guggul) Commiphora wightii
Since ancient times, Guggul has been used in Ayurveda for its action against obesity and arthritis and to improve heart function. Research shows that the resin of the guggul tree contains ketonic steroid compounds called guggulsterones and these have the ability to reduce the cholesterol-containing plaque that builds on the inner walls of the arteries. Guggul also helps to increase the metabolic rate of the body and this is useful for weight loss, which in turn ensures a healthy heart. Laboratory studies have shown that Guggul can reduce LDL cholesterol, raise HDL cholesterol and reduce the tendency of platelet aggregation and therefore, it is an important natural remedy to prevent coronary artery disease. According to Ayurveda, it’s not administered along but is prescribed in combination along with other herbs in the form of Kaishore Guggul, Yogaraja Guggul or Triphala Guggul.
An important point to be considered here is that remedies such as garlic, cayenne, ginger and green tea can be made a part of your regular diet; however, when it comes to using Arjuna or Guggul, it is best to take the advice of a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner before you begin. Use these herbs in combination with a nutritious diet and appropriate exercise and keep your stress levels low and you are sure to have a healthy heart that stays vibrant and healthy for many years to come.