Fact Checked By Michael Kuefner, PhD (BMS)
August 18, 2021
We’ve probably all heard the dangers of poor heart health and cardiovascular-related illnesses from our doctors or loved ones, and for good reason.
Cardiovascular diseases, like heart attack, stroke, or other heart-related issues make up the leading causes of death globally, taking an estimated 17.9 million lives each year (1).
On the flip side, liver health may be a little bit less spoken about but entails numerous issues as well – alcohol-induced liver damage or fatty liver diseases represent some of the main liver problems we face today that are prevalent in almost 1/4th of Americans (2).
Similar to heart- health complications, many liver problems can be attributed to some poor lifestyle choices – bad diet habits, lack of exercise, etcetera.
The one aspect rarely talked about concerning these liver and heart complications is the relationship between them (hint: there’s a big one!).
It turns out that liver complications are highly predictive, and possibly causal, of cardiovascular or heart health problems (3).
The relationship between the liver and heart is clear.
It’s a two-way street that has been discussed since the early 2000’s (4).
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Likewise, new research and sophisticated reviews on the clinical data available regarding this relationship indicates that patients with fatty liver disease are at a dramatically increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease – high blood pressure, coronary heart diseases, arrhythmias, and more (5).
Clearly, taking care of your heart and liver are important.
And that’s why you’re here.
So enough of the somber statistics – the good thing is that many natural ingredients and supplements used for liver health have proven benefits for cardiovascular health, and we’ll go through a list of some of those now!
Beetroot contains dietary nitrates and antioxidants that boost anti-inflammation and anti-oxidant support for the liver.
Just 50mg of beetroot extract can have pronounced hepatoprotective effects.
Beetroot juices and dietary nitrates may provide support to the heart and benefit heart disease patients as well.
A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology found that dietary nitrates consumed via beetroot juice decreased blood pressure by dilating the blood vessels.
The study was done in twenty young-adult volunteers.
The study also found that beetroot juice may even reduce overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system that normally occurs in patients afflicted with heart disease (8).
In preclinical studies on mice, beetroot juice actually reduced myocardial infarction and risk for heart attacks (9), despite no changes in blood nitrate levels.
Altogether, results on beetroot juice are pretty conclusive when it comes to liver health AND heart health.
If you are looking for one boost to both your cardiovascular system and your liver, beetroot juice may be a good choice to start with.
1. Milk Thistle
One of the most discussed and promising natural substances for liver treatment is Milk Thistle (commonly referred to as Silymarin), a plant extract native to European countries that was brought to the USA.
200mg of Milk Thistle has promising effects on the treatment of liver-related diseases by reducing ‘bad’ cholesterol known as LDL-Cholesterol (6).
It also has protective, beneficial effects on important liver enzymes.
When Silymarin was given to rodents with heart complications at 3 different doses, each of the doses resulted in significant heart improvements.
Specifically, Silymarin protects endogenous antioxidant enzyme break-down that typically occurs in heart disease.
The rodents also showed lower blood pressure and heart rate and had less heart attack incidences when given Milk Thistle too (7).
In patients with β-thalassemia, which is an inherited red blood cell disorder, treatment with Silymarin has been proposed as an effective natural substance to combat associated heart complications.
Moreover, diabetic individuals are significantly less likely to develop heart diseases if they are using Milk Thistle as well.
Milk Thistle may be one compound you can effectively use to ‘kill two birds with one stone,’ in that it has protective, beneficial effects for both the liver and the heart!
3. Dandelion Roots
Dandelion roots benefit the liver by improving antioxidant enzymes and reducing stress to the organ.
They also improve the liver’s ability to produce bile acids to support the digestion and absorption of nutrients in the body (10).
Dandelion root polysaccharides, or sugars, are the crux of what’s important to this root’s benefits.
It’s also rich in Vitamin C to improve immune defense.
Concerning cardiovascular disease, evidence suggests that dandelion supplementation mitigates risk for developing heart disease through its antioxidative capabilities.
In short, dandelion root boosts antioxidants.
This has LDL-cholesterol lowering effects which reduces risk for heart disease.
The antioxidants also counteract inflammatory factors that can eventually induce cell damage – plaque formation in the arteries, heart disease, and more (11).
4. Chicory Root
Chicory root is another supplement with numerous beneficial effects on both the heart and liver.
Chicory has previously been discussed as its ability to act as an alternative to coffee.
This is due to its loss-of-appetite effects and its ability to treat constipation and stomach pains (12).
Clinical studies on the treatment of 47 adults with roasted chicory extract resulted in improvements in factors related to diabetes and digestion, suggesting it may have a preventative effect (13).
This promising, recent study has also pointed out that chicory root extract may significantly decrease blood pressure, one of the main associations with cardiovascular disease risk (13).
Liver and Heart Health – A Two-Way Street to Health
Overall, there is pretty big overlap when it comes to ingredients in supplements for the liver and heart.
Why is this?
Well, possibly the main reason is that there are huge associations between liver complications and risk for cardiovascular disease.
The take-home message here is liver support and health doesn’t just benefit your liver.
It improves digestion, hormone levels, and perhaps most importantly, can reduce your risk for heart complications.
Lucky for you, a lot of the liver support supplements are dual-acting as they improve heart health as well!
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