Your heart is the center of life. It ensures every part of your body gets the nutrients and oxygen needed for optimal function. Maintaining heart health is essential and can be done by adopting a healthy routine with regular exercise, stress management, and the right nutritional support. 

In addition to sticking with a routine, discussing heart health with your doctor is essential. Asking questions is fundamental so that you can take preventative measures to promote long-term heart health and healthy living.

The 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Heart Health

I want to take a moment to answer the most frequently asked questions to help you along your heart health journey.

1. What nutrients are important for heart health?

It is important to make sure that your heart has the nutrients needed for optimal function. Some of the most important nutrients for proper heart function are:

Magnesium, to support healthy blood pressure, circulation, and maintain a healthy heartbeat

Niacin, an essential B-complex vitamin that can help aid healthy lipid levels and blood circulation

Fiber binds with cholesterol to support healthy blood lipid levels and helps maintain healthy blood glucose levels by slowing the absorption of sugar.

Chromium helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels to support arterial health and proper blood flow.

♦ Potassium supports electrical signals that promote a healthy heartbeat and supports healthy blood pressure. 

Vitamin B12, to help promote the body’s ability to produce red blood cells to support healthy blood flow and arterial integrity 

2. What should I eat for optimal heart health?

A prudent plant-based diet with plenty of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, protein-packed tofu, beans and lentils, and fiber-packed grains will provide you with the nutrients you need for optimal heart health.

plant based diet

3. Is there an ideal blood pressure? 

Your systolic blood pressure (top number) is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart contracts and the diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) is the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart relaxes. Various factors like age, family history, weight, diet, and activity level influence blood pressure, so everyone is different.

A healthy blood pressure in someone who is not on blood pressure lowering medications is 120/80 or less. Many people have a blood pressure lower than this, and if your blood pressure runs lower and you are not with symptoms such as lightheadedness, then you are likely okay.

However, if you are being treated with blood pressure medications, your goal blood pressure is likely higher than the 120/80 reading that is considered normal for people not on medications.

4. What is the difference between good and bad cholesterol?

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is known as “good cholesterol” because it transports cholesterol to your liver to be released from your body. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is called “bad cholesterol” because it delivers cholesterol to your arteries. Maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol helps promote arterial health and proper circulation. 

5. What are ideal cholesterol levels? 

In general, the lower the LDL number, the better. In a healthy person, a healthy LDL number should be no more than 100 mg/dL. However, for those who have risk factors, your doctor may wish for you to achieve an even lower LDL level. Lifestyle changes that include eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight can support healthy LDL cholesterol levels. 

An ideal HDL is higher than 55 mg/dL for females and 45 mg/dL for males. Unfortunately, HDL cholesterol levels are mostly genetically determined and change very little, even with the best lifestyle choices.

6. Does coffee or caffeine increase cholesterol?

Coffee does not contain cholesterol, but it can affect cholesterol levels. Compounds in coffee, known as diterpenes, interfere with the body’s natural cholesterol breakdown processes, which can slightly increase cholesterol in the blood. That being said, there can be heart health benefits to drinking coffee. Also, caffeine in the morning helps with alertness and can fuel your morning exercise.

smiling woman drinking coffee

7. Is there an ideal blood glucose reading?

Blood glucose levels are typically the lowest first thing in the morning or just before a meal. A normal fasting blood glucose reading should be less than 100 mg/dL after fasting for at least 8 hours, while a test done 2 hours after eating should be less than 140 mg/dL. 

8. Why does my blood sugar go up 3 hours after eating?

After ingesting and chewing your food, your body breaks down the food in your stomach to create fuel, which is when the glucose in your blood increases. There is a window of time after food ingestion before insulin starts working to remove the glucose from the blood, which accounts for a temporary increase in blood glucose levels. 

9. How do I keep my blood sugar stable all day?

To promote healthy blood glucose levels throughout the day, you can make dietary changes like eating more fiber and less refined carbohydrates. Also, drink more water during the day to support circulation and be sure to fit in exercise. It is also important to eat snacks and meals at regular intervals during the day and not to skip meals. 

10. How much exercise do I need?

A minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, spread throughout the week is recommended for heart health. However, more benefits can be gained from aiming for 300 minutes of exercise per week. Strength training, in addition to cardiovascular exercise, can provide benefits of helping to support muscle and bone strength.

Taking Supplements for Heart Health

In addition to regular exercise and a balanced diet, there are benefits to adding supplements to your heart health routine. The right supplement can help fill in dietary gaps to ensure your heart and circulatory system get the essential nutrients they need. 

1MD Nutrition's CholestMD and GlucoseMD

When it comes to heart health, I highly recommend 1MD Nutrition’s heart health supplements. 

CholestMD® is a broad-spectrum formula that supports healthy HDL and LDL cholesterol levels and promotes heart health. This unique combination offers olive leaf and garlic bulb extracts that support arterial and circulatory health and niacin and Bergavit®, two potent ingredients that aid healthy lipid levels.

GlucoseMD® contains a potent blend of carefully-selected ingredients that work to promote glucose absorption and help maintain healthy blood glucose levels for metabolic and cardiovascular health. 

I also worked closely with the 1MD Nutrition® team to formulate CardioFitMD™, the ultimate, all-in-one superfood drink. Broad-spectrum fiber promotes heart health, and when combined with the addition of 2 billion CFUs of Bacillus coagulans, your digestive system gets support too. The potent beetroot powder promotes nitric oxide production for healthy circulation, while 20 essential vitamins and minerals deliver whole-body health.

Final Thoughts

Knowledge is essential in the promotion of heart and whole body health, so it is important to discuss heart concerns with your doctor. By asking questions, you can get the information you need. Once armed with the facts, you can ensure that your daily routine includes the right nutrition, exercise, and habits for optimal heart health and active living.

Dr. Heather Shenkman


Dr. Heather Shenkman is a board certified interventional cardiologist. She completed a six year program at Albany Medical College, graduating at the age of 23. She completed her residency at Henry Ford Hospital, cardiology fellowship at the University of Rochester, and interventional cardiology fellowship at the esteemed Tufts Medical Center in Boston.