(Updated in February 2023 to reflect the latest research on sea buckthorn oil for heart health.)
Heart Health in the US
Heart disease has been the leading health issue in the United States of for years. To prevent heart disease, keep up with your heart health and know your cholesterol levels.
What Causes Heart Disease?
Eating a diet high in saturated fats leads to higher amounts of bad cholesterol or LDL. Bad cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries, which can lead to stroke and heart disease.
Being diabetic, overweight, or not physically active can cause heart disease development. Preventing heart disease, for some, can be as easy as improving your diet and working out. The older you get, the more important it becomes to keep track of your cholesterol levels. It's important to recognize that the signs of heart disease differ between men and women.
Common Heart Health Warning Signs
We’ve all seen representation of heart attacks on television and movies. They’re dramatic events with people clutching their chests and falling to the floor. However, most people would be surprised to learn that the warning signs of heart disease can be much more subtle. The warning signs vary greatly for men and women too. Knowing the warning signs can save your life or the life of someone you love.
Women’s Heart Troubles Fly Under the Radar
While some women do get the traditional chest pain about half have other signs. In fact, many women do not even know they are suffering from heart attack.
“Women are more likely than men to report back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea (feeling sick to the stomach), vomiting, extreme fatigue (tiredness), or problems breathing.”
Common Heart Health Warning Signs for Women
Women who experience heart disease sometimes have no warning signs. Having no warning signs can make heart diseases more dangerous. Coronary heart disease (CHD) in women can be especially hard to detect.
Some women may not be diagnosed until they have warning signs of a heart attack, heart failure, or an arrhythmia. For women who do have warning signs they often feel a sharp burning pain in their chest. More likely though, women often have pain in the neck, jaw, throat, back, or abdominal area.
Common Heart Health Warning Signs for Men
CHD in men is often described as a tightness or squeezing in the chest. The pain may often extend down the arms, these warning signs usually go away with rest. There is often a feeling of pain in the chest and left arm along with cold sweats.
Understanding Cholesterol-HDL and LDL
Another important factor in determining heart health is cholesterol. High levels of good cholesterol can be beneficial. Good cholesterol helps flush out the bad cholesterol and prevent plaque buildup.
Omega fatty acids are important for the human body’s health and function. Since the 1990’s, consumers have been led to believe that fish oil is the only supplement that can support health with omegas fatty acids. However, the truth is that fatty acids from plant sources may offer even more support for heart health than their animal-based counterparts, which we will go into later in this post.
Latest Research on Plant-Based Omegas for Heart Health
Can Sea Buckthorn Oil Support Heart Health?
Both sea buckthorn seed and berry oil contain a multitude of fatty acids and other bioactive nutrients which in recent years have been the focus of research on heart health.
2022 Meta-Analysis on Sea Buckthorn oil and Cholesterol
One of the latest discoveries on sea buckthorn oil’s heart health benefits shows positive results for supplementation of sea buckthorn oil. According to the research, supplementation with sea buckthorn oil could make a drastic reduction in heart disease by improving cholesterol and healthy blood lipid levels. (1)
The biggest positive changes were observed in study participants with existing cardiovascular risks. Those with cardiovascular challenges saw benefits like increased HDL or good cholesterol, and significantly decreased bad cholesterol. Another interesting benefit was that these participants even saw decreased levels of triglycerides, which can contribute to the thickening of arteries.
The Importance of Flavonoids for Heart Health
Researchers noted that some of the positive heart health benefits could be due to the other bioactive compounds found in sea buckthorn oil along with omega fatty acids. Sea buckthorn oils are rich in flavonoids and β-sitosterol(beta-sitosterol) along a host of other compounds. All the bioactive nutrients in combination with the omega fatty acids found in sea buckthorn are one of the reasons plant-based oils have an advantage against their animal-based counterparts.
The Takeaway from the Meta-Analysis Review on Sea Buckthorn for Heart Health
People have been using sea buckthorn oils for centuries to support their overall health and wellness- including their heart health. This research helps back sea buckthorn oil as a healthy option to support heart health.
Plant-Based Omega 3 for Heart Support
Omega 3 has been one of the best-known fatty acids in the past few decades- specifically for its role in heart health. Plant-based omega 3 or ALA has shown cardio-protective effects include reduction of blood pressure, anti-inflammatory effects, reduction of plaque hardening, and positive blood lipid support. (6)
Previously, fish-based omega 3 was touted as the best and only source for heart health supplements. However, years of new research surrounding plant-based omega 3 have revealed many science-backed heart health benefits. In fact, the European Commission asked the Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies (EFSA) to investigate the claimed effects on blood cholesterol from ALA omega 3. The Panel found and published a science-backed opinion in favor of ALA’s ability to help maintain normal cholesterol levels. (7)
“On the basis of the data available, the Panel concludes that cause and effect relationship has been established between the dietary intake of ALA and the reduction of blood cholesterol concentrations.”
Omega 7 and Cholesterol Levels
In more than one animal-based study, omega 7 has helped reduce cholesterol levels, reduce atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries), decrease in triglycerides, and the support of heart healthy enzyme activity. While these findings are positive, researchers do not yet have a complete picture of omega 7’s specific heart health benefits for humans. Initial research does imply that omega 7 on its own is worth further research in this area. It’s thought that omega 7 could also play a role in heart health due to its anti-inflammatory and blood sugar stabilizing qualities. Learn more about the many benefits of Omega 7 here.
Omega 6 tends to have a bad reputation because it’s often associated with fast food or processed food. However, this omega fatty acid is prevalent in many plant-based sources and does more for the body than the average person may know. In fact, omega 6 (also known as linoleic acid) can be positive for heart health and may even help protect from the effects of heart disease. Stop by this post to learn more about the latest research on omega 6.
The Takeaway from Omega Fatty Acids Found in Sea Buckhthorn Oil for Heart Health
Of all the fatty acids, plant- based omega 3 (ALA) seems to be the best supported for heart health benefits. As a whole, the omega fatty acids and other bioactive compounds from sea buckthorn oils have many science-backed benefits for heart health (and other areas of health).
Free and Easy Heart Health Tips
Working to keep your heart healthy is a lifelong process. We often think of heart disease as an issue that affects older people, but it’s never too soon to focus on heart health.
Healthy Heart Diet Tips
Limit the amount of meat you eat while increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables. Meats contain a lot of saturated fats on their own. When they are cooked more saturated fats are often added.
Saturated Fat and Meat
Saturated fat is the enemy of good cholesterol. The ideal solution is to eat leaner meats if not eliminating them all together. In recipes that call for meat replace the meat with eggplant or portobello mushroom. Many fruit and vegetables have properties that lower bad cholesterol. Apples, strawberries, and citrus fruits all contain pectin. Pectin is a soluble fiber that lowers bad cholesterol.
Dairy Products and Saturated fat
Lower the amount of fats you consume by dairy products that are low or non-fat. Whole milk contains a lot of saturated fat that can be avoided with consuming reduced fat milk. For a normal 2,000 a day calorie diet, one cup of whole milk can surpass the daily allowance of saturated fat. Avoiding saturated fats will decrease your need to worry about obtaining heart disease. That’s not all though, living a healthier lifestyle also means exercising.
30 Minutes of Aerobic Exercise
You don't need to be a marathon runner to do aerobic exercise! 30 minutes of brisk walking per day can do the trick. Don't feel like leaving the house? Put on your favorite dance music and dance- you can even do it while you're cleaning the house. Pump up the jams and get your heart pumping to the beat!
Resistance Training/ Strength Exercises
All you need is two days a week to help your body make more good cholesterol. Don't worry- you don't need to buy anything to get started. Using free online resources like Youtube, you can find thousands of body weight only workouts. Simple at home workouts can make a huge difference when it comes to your health. Combined with your aerobic efforts, strength exercise can help raise good cholesterol and help lower bad cholesterol.
Small Steps Make a Big Difference
Improving your heart health may seem like a daunting task, but even small changes can make a big difference. You’ve already made a huge step forward by educating yourself on this important topic- good for you! Small changes to your diet and incorporating a small amount of body movement each week will help transform your health.
Guo, X., Yang, B., Cai, W., & Li, D. (2017). Effect of sea buckthorn (hippophae rhamnoides L.) on Blood Lipid Profiles: A systematic review and meta-analysis from 11 independent randomized controlled trials.Trends in Food Science & Technology,61, 1-10. doi:10.1016/j.tifs.2016.11.007
Solà Marsiñach, M., & Cuenca, A. P. (2019). The impact of sea buckthorn oil fatty acids on human health.Lipids in Health and Disease,18(1). doi:10.1186/s12944-019-1065-9
Matthan, Nirupa R, A Dillard, JL Lecker, B Ip, and AH Lichtenstein. “Effects of dietary palmitoleic acid plasma lipoprotein profile and aortic cholesterol accumulation are similar to those of other unsaturated fatty acids”, The American Journal of Nutrition. The American Institute of Nutrition, 2009. [http://jn.nutrition.org/content/139/2/215.full]
Yang, Z., Pryor, M., Noguchi, A., Sampson, M., Johnson, B., Pryor, M., Remaley, A. T. (2019). Dietary palmitoleic acid attenuates atherosclerosis progression and hyperlipidemia in low‐density lipoprotein receptor‐deficient mice.Molecular Nutrition & Food Research,63(12), 1900120. doi:10.1002/mnfr.201900120
Budijanto S. Effect of various cholesterol dietary fatty acid ethyl esters on plasma and lipoprotein metabolism in rats. J Clin biocuemistry Nutr. 1992;13:13–22.
Rajaram S. Health benefits of plant-derived alpha-linolenic acid. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100(suppl)1):443–8.
Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to alpha linolenic acid and maintenance of normal blood cholesterol concentrations (ID 493) and maintenance of normal blood pressure (ID 625) pursuant to Article 13(1) of regulation (EC) no 1924/2006. (2009).EFSA Journal,7(10), 1252. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2009.1252
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