Heart Health for Women: Natural Tips for a Happy Heart

Female hands holding red heart

You might think that heart health isn't your biggest priority as you go through menopause. Heart disease is often perceived as a “man's disease”, but it’s actually the leading cause of death among women over the age of 50. 

What's even more concerning is that almost two-thirds of women who die suddenly from coronary heart disease show no previous symptoms.

The good news is that there's lots you can do naturally to look after your heart health.

Watch the video below or listen to the podcast (episode 145).

Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Aside from genetics, going through menopause increases your risk of heart disease. Oestrogen plays a key role in heart health, helping to protect your blood vessels from atherosclerosis, which is the build up of fatty deposits. So declining levels through menopause can make them more susceptible to damage.

Other significant risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, smoking, lack of exercise, a poor diet, stress, poor sleep, alcohol, insulin resistance, Diabetes and obesity. 


If you’re post menopausal, your doctor may have told you that your cholesterol is too high (mine tells me regularly). But unless you have genetically high cholesterol, before you take the recommended cholesterol-lowering medication, please be informed about cholesterol, how it works and its many benefits.

Cholesterol is a vital building block for the steroid hormones which help control our moods, metabolism, inflammation, immune, and sexual functions. The human body needs it in order to function, and without it we would not survive.

Focusing solely on lowering your total cholesterol won't necessarily make you less susceptible to heart attacks. There are other critical factors, like inflammation and particle size, that offer a more accurate picture of your heart health risks.

The popular notion that LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) is “bad” cholesterol and HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) is “good” cholesterol is an oversimplification of their roles and functions in the body. Both types of lipoproteins serve vital physiological functions, and their ‘goodness' or ‘badness' is dependent on context, particularly their levels and ratios.

Yet we are still relying on measuring total cholesterol levels and the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol to assess a person's risk of developing heart disease. Recent research suggests that measuring the number and size of LDL and HDL particles, and triglyceride levels (blood fats made from sugar) would be a more accurate way to predict risk.

It's also important to note that there is a growing concern that treating cholesterol levels too aggressively, such as with medication, can lead to cholesterol levels that are too low. Levels under 4mmol/l have been shown to potentially increase the risk of dementia in the elderly. For this reason, it's important to work with your healthcare provider to find a treatment plan that balances the benefits of cholesterol-lowering medications with the potential risks of low cholesterol levels.

So, when evaluating your heart health and risk factors, do some critical thinking about what is best for you. If you've been advised to take Statin drugs, ask for some evidence on why they are recommending them for you. Ask for details of your cholesterol levels. If your triglycerides are low, your HDL cholesterol high and making up one third of your TOTAL cholesterol, chances are you would do better to focus on diet and lifestyle interventions first before starting medication that you'll be on for life.

Natural ways to improve heart health

Medication has its place of course (especially HRT), but there are many diet and lifestyle interventions that can make a big difference, especially to mild or moderate conditions.

1. Increase Vitamin B3 (Niacin). B3 has been found to raise HDL levels by as much as 24 percent. The best food sources are liver, chicken, beef, avocados, tomatoes and nuts. 

2. Include omega-3s in your diet. Oily fish, grass-fed beef, free-range, organic poultry, nuts, olives, eggs and avocados are all rich in “good” fats. 

3. Go Mediterranean. Eating a Mediterranean style diet with fewer refined carbs, and plenty of vegetables, protein and healthy fats, especially olive oil, can help to lower your triglycerides and raise your HDL. 

4. Reduce sodium, increase potassium & magnesium – reduce intake of table salt (switch to sea salt which naturally has less sodium), include fresh fruit and vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds to increase potassium and magnesium.

5. Increase nitric oxide – this helps vasodilation of our blood vessels, promoting better circulation and blood flow (also helps with sexual function). Eating foods containing nitrates help to increase production; eg beetroot, leafy greens, cabbage, celery, rhubarb, parsley.  Exposing skin to the sun also triggers nitric oxide.

6. Stop smoking. Not only does smoking lower your HDL, but it also constricts your blood vessels and raises your risk of heart attack in many other ways as well.

7. Lose weight. Getting rid of excess pounds can improve your heart health. Even a little weight reduction can raise your HDL levels.

8. Exercise. Physical activity not only helps to regulate blood pressure but also raises HDL. 

9. Meditation and breathwork – a recent randomised trial showed that regular meditation decreased the risk of death from heart attack, stroke and all causes by 48%! Nasal breathing is also thought to increase nitric oxide.

10. Prioritise your sleep – irregular sleep patterns and duration can double your risk of heart disease so make sure you are doing what you can to improve and regularise your sleep.

11. Helpful Supplements; including a good multivitamin with active levels of B vitamins, Magnesium, Potassium, Omega 3 DHA/EPA, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K2. Check out my Top 5 and favourite brands here.

Further Tests for Heart Health

To gain a fully comprehensive picture of your heart health, consider checking markers such as thyroid function, inflammation (CRP), clotting risk (fibrinogen), homocysteine levels, LDL particle size and number, triglycerides, glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), insulin resistance, sex hormones, blood pressure, BMI, waist circumference, infections (H. pylori, herpes, SIBO), and genetic predispositions.

As always, do contact us if you'd like details of our testing and 1-1 support.

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