By Susan Blum, MD, MPH
When it comes to nutrients that are important for heart health, antioxidants top the list. In general, they provide all your tissues and cells with the ultimate protection from something called free radicals.
I think of free radicals as sparks that are released inside your body as part of your everyday biochemistry, and antioxidants from food are needed to prevent these sparks from causing damage inside the cells.
Mitochondria, the little furnace that provides energy inside each cell, is especially sensitive to the free radical damage and heart muscle cells (along with brain cells) have the most mitochondria. This makes their health especially important for your heart. Without strong heart muscle action, it can’t work properly to pump blood around your body and up to your brain.
The best way to get these heart healthy nutrients is by eating a colorful rainbow of fruits and vegetables since each color represents a different type of antioxidant and we need a variety. If you don’t have high cholesterol or any heart issues, you can get your fill of antioxidants from your diet alone.
However, if you are on a statin or have any heart issues, talk to your doctor about CoQ10 and resveratrol supplements, the most important antioxidant supplements for the heart.
When it comes to food, it’s best not to look for one particular nutrient, but to eat or drink a wide range of different antioxidants because they complement each other. One powerful way to get antioxidants is by drinking cold pressed juices that concentrate many different phytonutrients into a potent drink.