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  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • February 2018
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Are you living a heart-healthy life?

During American Heart Month, it is important to recognize two things: that heart disease is the no. 1 cause of death for both men and women in the United States — taking approximately 1 million lives each year — and that death from heart disease can often be prevented.

This is quite a serious matter, considering that 85.7 million of us (34 percent of U.S. adults) are estimated to have hypertension and 2,200 of us are dying of cardiovascular disease each day, according to the American Heart Association.

If you haven’t already taken steps to make your health a priority, now is the time!


Unfortunately, many Americans don’t consider that years of bad lifestyle choices have taken a toll on their heart health. If you haven’t already, work on these areas of your life:

  • Eat healthier foods (cut fat and salt)
  • Get off of tobacco
  • Learn how to manage your stress
  • Get your body moving
  • Reduce inflammation in your body
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Control high cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure levels
  • Enjoy alcoholic beverages in moderation
  • Get enough sleep
  • Take supplements that may play a major role in heart health


Omega-3 fatty acids

Fish oil is a source of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. Your body needs them to function properly. According to Mayo Clinic, “Research shows that eating dietary sources of fish oil, particularly tuna and salmon, twice a week is associated with a reduced risk of developing heart disease. Taking fish oil supplements for at least six months has been shown to reduce the risk of heart-related events (such as heart attack) and death in people who are at high risk of heart disease.”

The organization also points to research that suggests the risk of congestive heart failure is lower in older adults who have higher levels of EPA fatty acids, along with positive effects in supporting healthy blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol, and in managing inflammation.

Gamma linolenic acid (GLA)

If you’re looking for a natural way to help maintain a normal inflammatory response, or to deal with inflammation after intense exercise, GLA may be right for you. It’s an omega-6 fatty acid that the body needs but is unable to produce, which means we must consume it in the foods we eat.

GLA is primarily found in plant seed oils, and GLA supplements are typically made from evening primrose oil, black currant seed and borage seed oil. It can also be found in breast milk, which is the primary source of this fatty acid for infants. GLA can help improve the symptoms of a variety of conditions and support heart health. If you’re looking for natural ways to combat inflammation in your body, consider a GLA supplement.

Coenzyme Q10

CoQ10 is an antioxidant substance found in the body that works in the conversion of food into energy. Found in two forms, ubiquinol and ubiquinone, CoQ10 production slows in the body as we age. A recent study published in Cardiovascular Pharmacology: Open Access found evidence that CoQ10 may have “significant cardiovascular protective effects” that could help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Researchers also point to benefits for people with cardiovascular disease, from reducing risk for repeat heart attacks and improving outcomes in patients with heart failure, to lowering blood pressure and helping combat side effects of cholesterol-lowering statins.

Plant sterols

Phytosterols are cholesterol-like compounds that are found in plants. They are believed to block the absorption of cholesterol in our diets. We consume plant sterols when we eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, grains and legumes. Many studies have examined the role plant sterols play in lowering serum cholesterol levels and preventing cardiovascular disease, according to the Neurohealth Sciences Center.

Hence, plant sterols have been recommended by both the American Heart Association and the National Cholesterol Education Program as a way to lower elevated LDL cholesterol levels and manage coronary heart disease.

There are several other types of supplements to consider for supporting your heart health. I encourage you to learn more about them!

This American Heart Month, put the focus on your heart, and encourage your family and friends to do the same! Together, you can work on making heart-healthy choices, and on educating each other about family health history, the risk factors for heart disease, the importance of regular checkups and working with your physician to manage your health. 

Theresa Groskopp, CN

Theresa Groskopp, a licensed certified nutritionist, is the founder and president of Natural Healthy Concepts, which has a retail location at 310 N. Westhill Blvd. in Appleton. She firmly believes that the foundation of health and wellness lies in proper nutrition. To supplement proper nutrition, Natural Healthy Concepts carries a wide variety of pharmaceutical grade supplements, homeopathic remedies and herbs — all of which are derived from the highest quality ingredients. The store also offers a nice selection of natural health products, including nontoxic sunscreens!

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