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These Two Supplements May Reduce Your Heart Disease Risk, New Study Says

The researchers found that these common nutrients have heart-healthy benefits.

Although COVID-19 continues to call for plenty of worldwide attention, one concerning trend that the pandemic hasn't eclipsed is this: the leading cause of death in the U.S. is still heart disease, with approximately one in four deaths caused by a cardiovascular-related illness.

For what it's worth, COVID-19 could make this data point even deadlier, as the U.K.'s BMJ summarized a recent meta-study that looked at over 48,000 patients and found that those with risk factors for cardiovascular disease who also contracted COVID-19 were at significantly higher risk of developing a critical case, or even dying from, the virus.

However, there's good news if you're seeking simple ways to protect yourself against the threat of cardiovascular disease in such concerning times. A new study published this week in the academic journal Nutrients found that two particular dietary supplements—fish oil and calcium—may lessen the risk of cardiovascular illness. And the most significant impact was seen among people with a particular set of diet habits.

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A group of researchers in Australia examined a decade's worth of data collected from 70,000 participants to assess whether those who regularly took a multivitamin, minerals, or fish oil experienced a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease than those who didn't take any of the above.

While perhaps not groundbreaking to learn that the group with unhealthy diets were at greater risk of heart disease overall, there was an exciting finding among the healthy-eating group who made fish oil or calcium supplement into their diets. The healthy eaters taking fish oil or calcium experienced a lower incidence of cardiovascular illness than participants who ate healthy but didn't take these supplements.

One necessary mention here is that while fish oil and calcium appear to have made a difference in the prevalence of cardiovascular disease, this only tended to be the case for individuals who followed long-term healthy eating habits. Study participants with an unhealthy diet didn't see a significantly lower risk for developing cardiovascular disease, even when they incorporated these supplements into their routines. In other words, if you'd like to take fish oil and calcium to reap the heart-supporting benefits, you may likely need to follow a healthy diet to experience them.

That said, it's worth noting that a December 2019 article published on Harvard University's blog points out that while fish oil has been a common recommendation for patients with cardiovascular disease for years, other recent findings suggest that among most unhealthy eaters, omega-3-fatty acids aren't shown to prevent heart attack or stroke…but they may prevent the risk of death from these events.

Looking for the best ways to amp your supplement game? Check out the 8 Best Immune-Boosting Supplements That Work, Say Doctors.

Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more about Krissy