Are Supplements for Heart Health Beneficial? Exploring the Facts Behind the Hype

Key Takeaways:

1. Diet, exercise, and weight loss are crucial for a healthy lifestyle and reducing heart disease risks.

2. Key nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, magnesium, and fibre found abundantly in food sources such as leafy greens, whole grains, and fatty fish can benefit your heart and lower heart disease risk.

3. Despite extensive research, supplements for heart health haven't shown strong evidence for preventing or treating heart disease

4. Consult your doctor before taking any heart supplements, especially if you have existing health conditions.


As individuals become increasingly health-conscious, the popularity of supplements for heart health is on the rise. With a plethora of options available, including fish oil, CoQ10, and magnesium supplements, navigating the supplement market can be daunting. 

While data specific to the Indian heart supplement market is scarce, the Asia Pacific region has witnessed a significant surge in the demand for heart health supplements, driven by heightened awareness of heart health and a rising prevalence of cardiovascular diseases. With a burgeoning market projected to reach USD 9.68 billion by 2033, fuelled by a health-conscious populace actively seeking to enhance their cardiovascular well-being, it's evident that the trend is here to stay. 

Asia Pacific expected heart health supplements market size growth from 2023 to 2033
Asia Pacific Cardiovascular Health Supplements Market Size 2023 to 2033

However, amidst this growing trend, the crucial question remains: do these supplements truly deliver on their promises? 

In this blog, we delve into the evidence to uncover the truth behind heart health supplements.

Why Nutrition Matters for Heart Health

Before we dive into the intricacies of heart health supplements, let's first grasp the fundamental significance of nutrition in nurturing a healthy heart.

Unhealthy dietary habits, such as consuming excessive sodium, processed foods, and added sugars, along with low intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fibre, legumes, fish, and nuts, significantly contribute to the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). These dietary patterns, combined with a sedentary lifestyle, being overweight or obese, experiencing stress, excessive alcohol consumption, or smoking, amplify the risk of heart problems. Moreover, CVD often occurs alongside other health conditions like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol, which are among the top ten leading causes of death worldwide.

What is good for heart health? Healthy food. 
What is good for heart health?

There's promising evidence indicating that nutrition plays a crucial role in preventing heart disease and may even reverse its progression. 

Some important nutrients for the heart include:

  • Omega-3-fatty acids
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Fibre
  • Iron
  • Folate

By adopting a heart-healthy diet, individuals can manage various risk factors associated with CVD, including excess weight, high blood pressure, diabetes, and abnormal cholesterol levels.

Here is a list of a few best food options for optimizing your heart's well-being.

  • Leafy greens, rich in vitamin K and nitrates, lower blood pressure and enhance arterial function, reducing heart disease risk.
  • Whole grains have low glycemic index and is linked to reduced cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, and heart disease risk.
  • Beans, rich in resistant starch, effectively lower cholesterol, and blood pressure, and enhance glycemic control.
  • Olive oil, rich in antioxidants and monounsaturated fats, is linked to reduced blood pressure and lower risk of heart disease.
  • Almonds, packed with fibre and monounsaturated fats, contribute to lowering cholesterol levels and reducing belly fat.
  • Avocados, rich in monounsaturated fats and potassium, aid in reducing cholesterol, and blood pressure.
  • Fatty fish and fish oil, abundant in omega-3 fatty acids and CoQ10, can effectively lower blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol.
  • Dark chocolate, rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids, is linked to a decreased risk of developing calcified plaque in the arteries and coronary heart disease.
  • Walnuts are a great source of fibre, magnesium, copper, and manganese and aid in reducing cholesterol and blood pressure levels. 
  • Berries, abundant in antioxidants, mitigate various risk factors for heart disease.
  • Tomatoes, abundant in lycopene, are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, along with increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
  • Seeds such as chia seeds, flaxseeds, etc. contain fibre and omega-3 fatty acids and can reduce inflammation, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
  • Garlic is effective in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while also potentially inhibiting blood clot formation, due to the presence of a chemical known as allicin.

Does Heart Supplements Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease

When confronted with advertisements touting better heart health, it's all too easy to be swayed into believing that supplements hold the key to effortless wellness. The most common heart health supplements include fish oil (Omega-3), Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), Vitamin D, red yeast rice, plant sterols, magnesium, folate, and fibre and promises to promote heart health by lowering the risk of various risk factors. 

However, at present, there's limited evidence supporting a connection between supplement use and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.

  • A study in 2018 revealed that widely used heart supplements like multivitamins, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin C didn't consistently show benefits in preventing cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, or strokes.
  • In a study from 2023 involving 190 patients at higher risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, low-dose statin use was found to reduce LDL cholesterol more effectively than placebo and six common heart supplements, including fish oil, cinnamon, garlic, turmeric, plant sterols, and red yeast rice.
  • Another 2019 study proved that vitamin B6, vitamin A, multivitamins, antioxidants, and iron supplements didn't notably decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. The study also suggested that taking combined calcium and vitamin D supplements might increase stroke risk. But, omega-3 and folate supplements were linked to reduced cardiovascular issues.
A woman holding heart supplements and a heart model
Image by freepik | heart supplements

Hence, it's advisable to prioritize improving your diet over-relying on supplements, as vitamins and minerals are most effective when obtained from food. Food sources offer a rich array of nutrients, including carotenoids, flavonoids, minerals, and antioxidants not typically found in supplements. Moreover, food is more cost-effective than supplements.

  • In a study assessing participants' dietary nutrient intake and mortality outcomes in the US, adequate levels of vitamin A, K, zinc, and magnesium—obtained from food, not supplements—were associated with a reduced risk of death. Specifically, adequate intake of vitamin A, vitamin K, and zinc from food, rather than supplements, correlated with a decreased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

When to Consider Heart Health Supplements

For individuals who maintain a healthy diet, a daily supplement isn't necessary. For individuals unable to make dietary changes or those with genuine nutrient deficiencies, supplements can be beneficial. 

  • Supplements may be recommended by your doctor to address existing deficiencies like iron and vitamin D, identified through blood tests.
  • Omega-3s are found in fish and some plant foods. Supplements may offer an alternative for those with limited dietary intake.
  • Plant sterols can be added to your daily diet for managing high cholesterol.
  • Fiber supports heart health. But many Indians consume less than recommended, a supplement can help meet daily needs.

Risks Involved With Heart Supplements

Always consult your cardiologist before starting any heart supplements to avoid adverse health outcomes.

  • Supplement use may result in consuming excessive amounts of vitamins, especially fat-soluble ones like A, D, E, and K, which can accumulate in the body and lead to toxicity.
  • Certain supplements may interact with medications, particularly heart medications like blood thinners, reducing their effectiveness.
  • Increasing potassium intake may not be suitable for those with kidney disease or any condition or medication regimen that impacts potassium excretion.

Things to Consider Before Starting Heart Supplements

  • Avoid taking a supplement solely based on its "heart healthy" label, as not all supplements are beneficial and excessive intake can be harmful.
  • Evaluate the necessity of the supplement and its potential benefits before proceeding. Seek your doctor's advice to identify the most suitable product for your needs.
  • Consult your doctor to determine the safe upper limits and recommended daily allowance for the vitamins you're considering.
  • If you have a heart condition or are at high risk of a heart attack, adhere to your doctor's recommendations. Treating serious health conditions with over-the-counter supplements without medical guidance is risky.
  • Choose a reputable brand with a long-standing history and a reputation for thorough testing to ensure quality and safety. 


In conclusion, while supplements for heart health may seem like a convenient solution for improving heart health, it's essential to approach their use with caution. Not all heart supplements deliver the promised benefits, and excessive intake can pose serious health risks. Consulting with your doctor to determine safe dosage levels, assessing the necessity of supplementation, and following medical advice for managing heart conditions are paramount. Remember, the path to a healthier heart lies not in self-prescribed over-the-counter supplements, but in a balanced diet, regular exercise, and professional medical guidance.

In addition to seeking professional medical advice, consider incorporating technology to support your health journey. Download the Aware app today. The Aware app serves as an intelligent health tracker, assisting you in staying fit and managing lifestyle conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. Aware’s proprietary heart score tracker monitors the heart every step of the way. Link your smartwatch and track how your heart is performing.

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About the Author

Dr. Satish Madiraju, a renowned cardiologist is passionate about consumer heart health and is on a mission to prevent a million heart attacks. He shares his expertise not only on heart health but also on leadership, digital health, and improving patient experience.
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