Long touted as a brain elixir that could boost memory and ward off dementia, a large randomized study of over 3,000 volunteers called Ginko Evaluation of Memory (GEM) found that the herb did not prevent or delay dementia or Alzheimer's disease in older adults and had no effect on slowing cognitive decline. But don't throw out your supply of ginko biloba supplements just yet. While the herb may not prove effective as a memory booster, it may find its claim to fame as a benefactor in preventing cardiovascular disease.

As part of the GEM study, researchers also assessed ginko biloba's role in preventing cardiovascular disease and although the herb did not prevent cardiovascular death, heart attacks or strokes in adults over age 75, the study found it may be beneficial to people with peripheral vascular disease-a narrowing of vessels that carry blood to the arms, legs, stomach or kidneys.

The reason ginkgo biloba may help ward off peripheral vascular disease is because it contains a class of nutrients called flavonoids, polyphenolic compounds found in fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate and red wine. It's believed that flavonoids offer some protection against cardiovascular disease because the antioxidants found in ginko biloba neutralize free radicals, which may contribute to a number of health problems, including heart disease. Flavonoids naturally occur in plants and are one of the reason's fruits and vegetables are so good for you. In addition to heart disease, flavonoids may also help reduce the risk of cancer and asthma and may even enhance mood.

Foods to Eat for Heart Health

Until more definitive data into the heart benefits of ginkgo biloba is known, the American Heart Association recommends that you get the heart protective nutrients you need naturally from a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, fish, whole grains and unsaturated fats. Here are five super foods to keep you heart healthy:

1. Oatmeal-Oats are full of omega-3 fatty acids, folate and potassium and can lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol.

2. Salmon-Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can reduce blood pressure. Just two servings per week may lower your risk of dying of a heart attack by one-third. Be sure to choose wild salmon over farm-raised fish, which can contain insecticides and heavy metals.

3. Avocado-Packed with monounsaturated fat, avocados can help reduce LDL levels while raising HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

4. Legumes-Lentils, chickpeas and black and kidney beans are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and soluble fiber.

5. Berries-Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries help reduce inflammation, which lowers your risk of heart disease and cancer.