Antioxidants and Their Role in Supporting Cardiovascular Health

Anju Mobin
By Anju Mobin
Kirsty Mac Dougall
Edited by Kirsty Macdougall

Published August 26, 2022.

The torso of an elderly person. their arm raised over their chest, hand gripping their heart.

There are many nutrients that improve your cardiovascular health. Antioxidants such as CoQ10, beta-carotene, and vitamin E have been found to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals which damage our cells. Any dip in our antioxidant levels can jeopardize cellular homeostasis, leading to an increase in free radicals.

These free radicals damage lipids, proteins, and DNA. It impairs the blood vessels' structure and function, disrupting the normal blood flow (1). Gradually, there is endothelial dysfunction, inflammation, plaque formation, and narrowing of the blood vessels that can lead to a number of cardiovascular problems.

Therefore, supplementing with antioxidants can be crucial in keeping the system in optimum condition and preventing heart problems.

How Do Antioxidants Minimize Risk for Cardiovascular Disease?

Our body functions by converting food into energy. Every second, millions of activities occur in the body, and free radicals are produced. They can potentially damage the cell walls, the cell structure, and even a cell's genetic material.

This cellular damage is also the root cause of heart diseases. They oxidize the cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and build up fatty plaque that gets settled on the arterial walls. Eventually, the arteries are blocked, which hampers blood flow to and from the heart.

Antioxidants react with these free radicals and neutralize them. They can prevent the corroding effects of these radicals and minimize the risks.

Vitamin E, carotenoids, vitamin C, and selenium are natural antioxidants that have shown tremendous benefits. Other highly effective antioxidants that naturally occur in fruits and vegetables are quercetin, resveratrol, epicatechin, and N-acetylcysteine.

Coronary artery disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, hypertension, and heart failure can be minimized by taking these antioxidants via food or supplement (2).

Which Antioxidants Aid in the Prevention of Heart Disease?

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol has received its name as bad cholesterol because it is primarily found in atherosclerotic plaque. It is this LDL cholesterol that gets oxidized by free radicals. They are toxic to the cells and get eaten up by the macrophages in the artery. However, the process leads to plaque formation and its gradual blockage.

Antioxidants in the plasma help reduce LDL oxidation, preserve the blood vessels' integrity, and prevent rupture. The vitamins also increase the production of nitric oxide, a vasodilator.

Clinical use of antioxidant vitamin supplementation may help to prevent coronary heart disease (CHD) (3).

Antioxidants for heart health are vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene, Coenzyme Q10, folic acid, bioflavonoids, and selenium, which can help prevent coronary heart diseases (CHD).

  • Vitamin E: Also known as alpha-tocopherol, this vitamin prevents the peroxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acid in the cell membranes. It also inhibits platelet activation and monocyte adhesion, two things that trigger plaque formation. Vegetable and seed oils, meat, fish, nuts, and seeds have a good amount of vitamin E. The RDA is 30IU per day. You can also go for supplements containing 30-50 IU per serving if needed.
  • Vitamin C: This is a water-soluble vitamin that prevents the body's free radicals from entering the LDL particles. It also helps regenerate active vitamin E, thereby helping in cholesterol excretion. Vitamin C helps keep the endothelial walls of the arteries intact. RDA for vitamin C is 60 mg, and it is best to get them from the diet. Citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, cantaloupe, and leafy green vegetables are good sources of vitamin C (4).
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin): A study conducted by the University of Washington researchers and published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that combination treatment with statin and niacin could reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol. The statin reduced the LDL levels while niacin boosted HDL formation. This also had the potential to reverse plaque build-up in the arteries, one of the biggest causes of blood flow obstruction and resultant heart attacks (5).
  • Ashwagandha: In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha has been known to be beneficial for cardiac ailments such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, and anginal pain (6). It has adaptogenic, cardiotropic, cardioprotective, and anticoagulant properties that eliminate free radicals, reduce inflammation and stop arterial decline. Approved Science ® Ashwagandha supplements are one of the best organic antioxidant supplements for heart health and are advised for holistic health benefits.
  • Astaxanthin: Astaxanthin is a type of red pigment found in pink-red colored salmon, shrimps, and algae. It is a potent antioxidant believed to reduce oxidative stress in smokers and overweight people (7).
  • Glutathione: Glutathione is an amino acid produced in the body by the liver. It is a natural antioxidant known to fight off free radicals. It reduces the effect of oxidative stress and prevents complications. Glutathione supplements are also available and support cardiovascular health (8).


Antioxidants can support cardiovascular health by neutralizing the free radicals that damage the blood vessels. It also reduces the oxidation of cholesterol molecules that form plaque.

The best vitamins for heart health and circulation are vitamins A, B3, C, E, and folic acid. These are potent antioxidants. You can get these vitamins from the best immune-boosting foods and the best organic antioxidant supplements.

Do not be discouraged if you do not get immediate results. It takes time for vitamins to work. Once you start taking supplements, some may work within a couple of weeks, and others may take 60 days or more for the effects to be evident.