15 Heart Healthy Herbs and Spices

Updated on October 30, 2017
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My name is Chin chin. I have a B.S. degree in food technology. I like to share important information about health and food-related topics.

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Modern medicine has made it possible to have many pharmaceutical formulations for the prevention and treatment of heart disease. Unfortunately, the intake of these drugs, most often, come with unwanted side effects. This is why many people prefer to first try herbal remedies which are practical and generally cheaper. Herbal remedies offer a great alternative for combating possible heart disease instead of using expensive synthetic chemicals.

There are many natural herbs that help keep the heart healthy. By talking with a practitioner of herbal medicine, you can get to know the right formula for you. Consumption of herbal remedies may be available as a combination of herbs in an herbal supplement, or as a single herb that provides specific results.

Here are 15 medicinal herbs that are good for the heart. You might know some of these supplements, such as garlic and ginger, but some may be unfamiliar.

1) Hawthorn Berries

Hawthorn berries are helpful in making your heart muscle have stronger contractions. This herb causes vasodilation as it opens up blood vessels so that the heart can pump out blood properly.

Research also revealed that hawthorn can improve blood cholesterol levels and lower fat accumulation in the liver. Hawthorn fruit extract consumption lowers cholesterol by promoting the excretion of bile.

The dried flowers and leaves of Hawthorne can be made into a healthful tea. Berry tincture may also be consumed.

Hawthorn Berries
Hawthorn Berries | Source

2) Bugleweed

Bugleweed, also called Ajuga reptans, is an herb that helps the heart pump more blood with each beat making it beat stronger. This herb causes the heart rate to slow down to a healthier rate. It helps protect against heart attacks, atherosclerosis, and strokes.

Bugleweed
Bugleweed | Source

3) Arjuna bark

Arjuna is another herb that has been used as a cardiotonic for centuries. Just like hawthorn, it is effective at strengthening the heart muscle. It helps decongest the lymphatic system around the heart, which allows the heart to maintain strong contractions and healthy arterial blood flow. It is also helpful in lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol. After the bark is soaked in water and then boiled, a person can drink the resulting decoction.

Arjuna bark
Arjuna bark | Source

4) Green  Tea

Green tea is rich in the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate, which can improve the health of the cells lining the blood vessels and the heart. Regular intake of 3 to 4 cups of green tea a day can help reduce bad cholesterol and lower one’s blood pressure levels.

Green tea plantation
Green tea plantation | Source

5) Garlic

A common kitchen herb that really helps the heart is garlic. Garlic has long been known to have the ability to help reduce blood pressure. It helps blood vessels to relax and dilate, reducing the pressure on the tubes. In addition, garlic can help prevent blood clots and reduce cholesterol. Garlic is also a powerful antioxidant.

According to studies, eating one-half to one clove of garlic every day may lower cholesterol by 9%. It’s not difficult to have that much garlic for some people. If you do not like the taste of garlic, there are garlic herbal supplements available as well. Taking 600-900 mg of garlic supplements every day for 3-6 months has shown to reduce blood pressure effectively.

Garlic
Garlic | Source

6) Cayenne Pepper

The capsaicin in cayenne pepper has been found to improve the elasticity of the blood vessels. This can reduce the chances of a blood clot formation and lowers the levels of LDL cholesterol. Cayenne is noted for getting blood circulation going, thus lowering blood pressure.

Cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper | Source

7) Ginger Root

A Singaporean friend told me a long time ago that ginger helps promote good blood circulation. Studies support this and have also supported its capability to lower LDL cholesterol and prevent hypertension and blood clots. Certain laboratory studies even show that ginger is more effective than aspirin in preventing a blood clot.

Take advantage of the cardioprotective and anti-inflammatory properties of ginger by including it in your daily diet. Grate or chop ginger and add it to your soups, sauces, and juice drinks. You can also sip some ginger tea with lemon or honey, if desired.

Ginger root
Ginger root | Source

8) Bilberry

The bilberry fruit contains anthocyanoside, a type of flavonoid that strengthens the capillaries, helps with blood flow, and prevents oxidation of LDL "bad" cholesterol. It is also effective at improving vision because of its ability to strengthen the tiny capillaries in the eyes.

Bilberry
Bilberry | Source

9) Motherwort Leaf

Motherwort, as a heart tonic, helps to treat palpitations. It can slow down a rapid heartbeat, and calm the nerves. It addresses mild heart irregularities and hypertension.

Dr. Rudolf Weiss from Germany studied motherwort and found that it helps with functional heart complaints. For optimum results, herbal infusions of up to 2 cups a day must be taken for several months. The infusion is prepared by boiling 1-2 teaspoons of dried motherwort in one cup of water. Let steep for 10 minutes before drinking. If taking a tincture, consume 10-20 drops three times a day. Always consult a qualified herbalist or a licensed medical professional before proceeding with this remedy.

Motherwort or Leonorus cardiaca
Motherwort or Leonorus cardiaca | Source

10) Coriander/Cilantro

Coriander and cilantro come from the same plant. Coriander refers to the plant's seeds, and cilantro refers to the plant's leaves.

Consuming coriander seeds has been shown to reduce blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Cilantro, on the other hand, is high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant which can help lower bad cholesterol and prevent platelet aggregation. This property helps to reduce one's risk of cardiovascular disease.

Both coriander and cilantro are often used for cooking recipes. Whole or ground coriander seeds may be mixed with black pepper and rubbed on meat and fish before cooking. Cilantro is often chopped fresh and added to salsas and used as a garnish.

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Coriander rubbed on meat before cookingSalsa topped with chopped cilantro
Coriander rubbed on meat before cooking
Coriander rubbed on meat before cooking | Source
Salsa topped with chopped cilantro
Salsa topped with chopped cilantro | Source

11) Cinnamon

Cinnamon is one powerful spice with favorable effects on the heart. It can stimulate circulation and increase secretion of cholesterol and triglycerides.

It has been found beneficial to include cinnamon with your meals. A study showed that people who took cinnamon with a fatty meal had 30% lower triglycerides and higher blood antioxidant levels.

Make cinnamon a part of your daily food intake for better heart health. Add cinnamon to your coffee, tea, oatmeal, yogurt, and smoothies.

Cappucino with cinnamon
Cappucino with cinnamon | Source

12) Turmeric

Turmeric is the spice added to curry powder and gives it its yellow color. It has a compound called curcumin, which is responsible for turmeric's great healing potential.

Turmeric has been found helpful for keeping a healthy blood pressure. It prevents blood clots and can increase HDL "good" cholesterol levels by about 30 percent. A Japanese research study also found the ability of curcumin to prevent cardiac hypertrophy or enlargement of the heart chambers and subsequent heart failure.

If you have any heart condition, it would be good to cook dishes like curry, which has turmeric. You can also take nutritional supplements with 250 to 500 mg curcumin daily (after consulting your doctor).

Turmeric
Turmeric | Source

13) Onions

Onion is a very common ingredient we use in cooking. Did you know that it can benefit your heart in many ways? It can lower unhealthy fat levels in the blood, prevent blood clots, and reduce blood pressure.

The heart-healthy properties of onions can be attributed to two flavonoids: sulfur and quercetin (both are antioxidants). Quercetin is a supplement used to significantly lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients.

To maximize onion's health benefits, eat them raw by putting them in sandwiches, salads, and salsas. You may also use onion to cook meals utilizing low heat.

Onions
Onions | Source

14) Black Pepper

The next time you grind some black pepper, you'll remember that it is good for your heart, and not just for making your food a little hot. Black pepper stimulates the breakdown of fat cells. Black pepper contains an active substance called piperine, which has shown to protect against oxidative damage and lower lipid peroxidation.

So, just keep adding a little black pepper here and there in your dishes, because it's good for your heart.

Black pepper
Black pepper | Source

15) Fenugreek Seeds

Fenugreek seeds are commonly used in cooking and making medicine in Western Asia, the Mediterranean region, and southern Europe. These seeds have become known for treating heart conditions such as high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis.

If you wish to incorporate fenugreek into your diet, you can use it as a flavoring in foods and beverages to imitate the maple syrup taste.

Fenugreek Seeds. Image by Leslie Seaton
Fenugreek Seeds. Image by Leslie Seaton | Source

Final Reminder Before Taking Herbs and Spices as a Remedy for Heart Ailments

Before taking any herb, be sure to discuss it first with your physician. Many think that since herbs are natural, they don’t have any side effects. This is incorrect.

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