The No. 1 killer on the planet is heart disease, which accounts for one in four deaths, 2 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.
Turmeric is a spice which just keeps getting better and better in the eyes of the health community. This powerful anti-inflammatory orange powder owes many of its health benefits to the ultra-high levels of curcumin. This compound has been shown to reduce the fatty deposits in our arteries by as much as 26 percent. Not only that, studies show that curcumin supplementation, or simply getting plenty of turmeric in your diet, can reverse arterial dysfunction and reduce the oxidative effects of aging on your arteries. All good news for your heart.
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.
Let’s face it: they’re a little bit weird. You’ve probably bypassed the occasional persimmon display at the supermarket because you simply didn’t trust the darn things. Are they oranges, tomatoes or something else? Whatever their loyalties, persimmons are positively overflowing with antioxidants and polyphenols. Like the avocado and cranberry, these help to decrease both LDL cholesterol and triglycerides from your bloodstream. It also just so happens that persimmons are high in fiber, which is a critical aspect of regulating blood pressure and cleansing your arteries on a regular basis.
Due to their high levels of healthy fats and protein, nuts make an excellent snack alternative for anyone thinking of heart health. But in addition to their high fat and protein content, almonds contain plenty of vitamin E and fiber. Both of these support healthy artery function and robust cardiovascular function. If almonds aren’t really your thing, why not walnuts instead? They contain loads of alpha-linolenic acid, the same compound found in chia seeds. It reduces blood pressure, inflammation and keeps things running smoothly in your arteries.