The No. 1 killer on the planet is heart disease, which accounts for one in four deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Arteries are the blood vessels that deliver oxygen-rich blood from the heart to different tissues in the body. When plaque builds up and blood flow becomes inhibited, these clogged or blocked arteries can lead to more serious problems such as heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. So what can you do to keep your arteries healthy and free of blockage? Food can be used as a natural remedy to regress blockage and prevent further damage to your arteries. Here are 7 of the best foods you can eat to free your arteries of build-up.
Broccoli can prevent artery clogging because it is loaded with vitamin K, which prevents calcium from damaging the arteries. Broccoli also prevents cholesterol oxidation and is full of fiber, which lowers blood pressure and reduces stress. Stress can lead to tearing and plaque build-up of arterial walls. These little trees also contain sulforaphane, which helps the body use protein to prevent plaque build-up in the arteries.
It is recommended to have two to three servings of broccoli per week for the maximum benefits. Broccoli is another versatile vegetable—it tastes great grilled, roasted or steamed and is a great side dish.
Ginger has incredible anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects. Ginger contains heart-protective compounds like shogaols and gingerols, which can effectively prevent plaque buildup by reducing total cholesterol. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2000, researchers found that ginger extract could reduce aortic atherosclerotic lesion areas, cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, LDL-linked fat peroxides, and LDL aggregation.
The high antioxidant content and punicic acid in pomegranate juice are thought to help decrease plaque formation and fight atherosclerosis. Pomegranate juice also contains important nutrients for heart health, such as magnesium and selenium. In a randomized, double-blind, parallel study published in the American Journal of Cardiology in 2009, researchers found that drinking 240 milliliters (ml) of pomegranate juice daily for up to 18 months slowed the progression of carotid artery disease for patients at risk of coronary health disease.
Oily fish contain super-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation in your arteries. Inflammation is one of the causative factors of plaque formation in your arteries. Eat two servings of salmon, halibut, mackerel, albacore tuna or lake trout weekly.
A personal favorite of mine, avocados are unbelievably nutritious and make a great addition to any meal. They supercharge a boring sandwich and make salads a whole lot more exciting. They are great simply on their own or in a delicious homemade guacamole dip. It seems hard to believe that something so creamy and delicious can also be good for you, but you better believe it!
In addition to their other wide-ranging health properties, avocados have been shown to dramatically improve blood cholesterol. A study published in the Archives of Medical Research found that consuming avocado on a daily basis leads to a decrease in triglycerides. LDL cholesterol (the unofficial “bad” kind) dropped by about 22 percent and HDL (“good”) cholesterol increased by around 11 percent. Lower triglycerides and LDL cholesterol means clearer arteries and less chance of plaque buildup. And yes, avocados are technically fruit!
When included daily as part of a heart-healthy diet, the fiber and alpha-linolenic acid contained in just two ounces of Chia seeds can help to keep arteries clear by regulating blood pressure, reducing LDL cholesterol, lowering triglycerides, and increasing HDL cholesterol. Also, because daily cardiovascular exercise is another excellent way to improve heart health and keep arteries clear, Chia seeds are doubly effective. The boost of protein and nutrients offered by this tiny superfood can help to make any workout feel just a little bit easier.
Instead of reaching for the cookie jar, try a healthier alternative—nuts. Almonds are the best choice because they are high in monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, fiber and protein. The magnesium in almonds also prevents plaque formation and lowers blood pressure. Walnuts are another good source of omega-3 fatty acid, which will reduce “bad” cholesterol and raise “good” cholesterol levels, which in turn lowers the risk of plaque build-up in the arteries.
The AHA recommends three to five servings per week (one serving is equivalent to a handful). Nuts also make a great salad topper.