30 Foods That Can Unclog Your Arteries
It’s a scary thought, clogged arteries. It’s brought the strongest men and women to their knees and strikes fear in the heart of families across the world. Clinically, it’s referred to as coronary artery disease, coronary heart disease or ischemic heart disease.
It’s the most common type of heart disease.
But what causes it?
According to the Center for Disease Control, “CAD is caused by plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart (called coronary arteries) and other parts of the body. Plaque is made up of deposits of cholesterol and other substances in the artery. Plaque buildup causes the inside of the arteries to narrow over time, which can partially or totally block the blood flow.”
Scary, right? But good news! Plaque buildup can be broken down. Insert the following foods (and remove your unhealthy foods) into your daily intake, and if done consistently, over time you will clean up your arteries and lengthen your life.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, this immune-system-boosting, anti-inflammatory compound we know as garlic “does indicate it can have a positive impact on your arteries and blood pressure.” If you can stomach it, that is. Best served raw for maximum health benefits, health professionals recommend 3-5 raw cloves per day.
While this plant that is related to ginger and grown throughout India, Asia, and Central America is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits (studies prove pain relief benefits), turmeric is also effective for heart health. Specifically, daily turmeric intake has been correlated with lower heart attacks in bypass surgery patients after the surgery.
A peer-reviewed study published in Nature Science found that patients (after an initial cardiovascular event) that begin a regular oat intake regimen were found to have lower serum levels of LDL, triglycerides, as well as lower inflammatory markers values and lower risk of major adverse cardiovascular events. This suggests the association of oat fiber use and lower risk of future adverse events in CAD patients.
This delicious, juicy, tangy, zesty and colorful fruit contains antioxidants which help improve blood vessel function and fiber pectin which lowers cholesterol. Additionally, Vitamin C (heavily present in oranges) helps strengthen the arteries and does not lead to blockages.
The nutritional benefits of kale are almost too long to include on this list. But we’ll try – first and foremost, it’s stocked to the brim with vitamins A, K, B6 and C, calcium, potassium, copper and manganese. These have been linked to anti-inflammatory benefit, improved circulation, anti-cancer causing benefits and reducing the susceptibility to Coronary heart disease. Get over the fact that it’s a hipster-inspired rejuvenated vegetable, and start eating it now!
This one is tricky. Because all red wines are not created equal, and some are simply full of refined white sugar (one of the worst things you can put into your body). But…quality red wine has been repetitively linked to improving the blood vessel lining in your heart, due to the antioxidative polyphenols found in red wine. But here’s the caveat: moderation is key. And even then, it’s not completely proven that it helps. Mayo Clinic is adamant about the fact that although some studies have shown positive outcomes in this regard, a similar number of studies have resulted in no positive benefits.
What’s an adhesion molecule? Well, at the cellular level that is a bit beyond our pay grade. But generally speaking, an adhesion molecule is a protein that causes white cells and other substances to stick to the walls of the arteries. A 2009 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study determined that a group of at-risk individuals over the age of 42 who took raw cocoa daily saw a decrease of adhesion molecules. In addition, cocoa was found to increase “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a massive benefit to the body. The lower the bad markers and raise the good ones. Sardines are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, thus they benefit you by: decreasing triglycerides, lowering blood pressure, reducing blood clotting, decreasing the risk of stroke, reducing irregular heartbeats, and more. But, as with everything on this list – MODERATION. An excess of fish could lead to mercury contamination. This idea here is to balance out all of these foods and others, not just rely on one or two for all your health needs.
So, you likely will notice a lack of red meat on this list. So…where to get your protein? Lentils are a top source of plant protein. But for your heart health, one serving of lentils per day could lower your LDL (“bad cholesterol”) by up to 5%, according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal. For a single ingredient, that’s a pretty amazing return on investment!
“Fat” is a loaded word. Generally, it’s got a negative connotation. But with almonds, the fat couldn’t be better. Mono-saturated fat found organically in almonds boosts serotonin which aids mood during the day while improving sleep at night. Almonds are also good sources of Vitamin E (good for immune system) and fiber (gut health). While there isn’t a specific correlation between almonds and plaque removal, the nut increases the vitality of other processes which in turn aid in plaque removal.
Quoted directly from the abstract of a 2013 peer-reviewed study, “Pomegranate is a source of some very potent antioxidants (tannins, anthocyanins)…Indeed, pomegranate is superior in comparison to other antioxidants in protecting low-density lipoprotein (LDL, “the bad cholesterol”) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL, “the good cholesterol”) from oxidation…Finally, unique pomegranate antioxidants beneficially decrease blood pressure. All the above beneficial characteristics make the pomegranate a uniquely healthy fruit.”
Translation: super good for your heart.
The anti-oxidative effect of blueberries is a well-known benefit to this tasty berry. Eat blueberries responsibly, because they do contain more sugar per gram than any other berry, but overall – a really great heart-healthy snack that can clean out arteries.
In a journal title ‘Nutrients’ – researchers determined that, “As a source of nitrate, beetroot ingestion provides a natural means of increasing in vivo nitric oxide (NO) availability and has emerged as a potential strategy to prevent and manage…hypertension and endothelial function.”
Hypertension is abnormally high blood pressure, and endothelial tissues expand and contract to increase of decrease blood flow to specific regions.
We’ve dicussed the importance of Omega-3 fatty acids before, and just like sardines…salmon is a great source.
Did you know: Two tablespoons of chia seeds (1 ounce or 28 grams) contain about 140 calories, 4 grams of protein, 11 grams of fiber, 7 grams of unsaturated fat, 18% RDA for calcium, and trace minerals including zinc and copper. They are the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds are a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids that cannot be made by the body.
The health benefits of apples are broken down like this: One serving, or one medium apple, provides about 95 calories, 0 gram fat, 1 gram protein, 25 grams carbohydrate, 19 grams sugar (naturally occurring), and 3 grams fiber.
For you heart health, apples are rich in quercetin (naturally occurring chemical that antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects) and pectin (a soluble fiber that may lower LDL).
The Mediterranean diet is the best diet for unblocking arteries and removing fats; a part of that is due to the healthy fats in the olive oil and nuts. So for the Central and South American counterpart – the avocado. A recent UT Southwestern Medical Center study determined that one avocado per day to replace the saturated fats in individual’s diet will notably lower the “bad cholesterol”.
These shiny, purple vegetables provide significant nutritive benefits thanks to its abundance of vitamins, phenolics and antioxidants. They say you should eat the rainbow, so here’s you daily serving of purple.
This classic vegetable is chock-full of sulforaphane. Sulforaphane – an indirect antioxidant – produces enzymes that protect your blood vessels from getting damaged. This in turn protects them from gaining unnecessary plaque buildup.
This is huge considering this damage to your blood vessels can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The health output of carrots is quantifies like this: 25 calories in one medium carrot, 1.7 grams of fiber, 195 milligrams of potassium, 3.6 milligrams of vitamin C, and smaller amounts of other nutrients. The fiber in carrots includes pectin, which, as we’ve discussed, may have cholesterol-lowering properties and that’s good news for your heart. And think…that’s just one carrot!
Quoted from a Nutrients Journal 2016 article, “Consumers of chickpeas and/or hummus have been shown to have higher nutrient intakes of dietary fiber, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium, and iron as compared to non-consumers.
“Emerging research suggests that chickpeas and hummus may play a beneficial role in weight management and glucose and insulin regulation, as well as have a positive impact on some markers of cardiovascular disease (CVD).”
Like we’ve said with the fish and the wine…MODERATION. It’s imperative when discussing the health benefits of coffee, we need to remember that it’s all in moderation. 3-4 cups seems to be the daily threshold, according to Harvard University Medical School (seems like a pretty hefty threshold, thankfully). But increasing studies are showing that coffee, when consumed daily, can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, uterine cancer, liver cancer, cirrhosis and gout. So…drink up.
According to the American Heart Association, cranberries are a top heart-health food; “The vitamins and minerals they contain boost the body’s digestive health and antioxidant system and promote good heart health – even possibly improving blood pressure and cholesterol.”
In terms of actual outcomes, there is not a food item on earth that has more consistently proven in independent studies that it’s effects are legitimate than green tea. Above most, it’s effect on your blood’s circulation is beyond doubt. Green tea improves circulation (hello, clogged arteries) and those that drink it have directions correlations to less cardiovascular incidents. 2-3 cups per day is recommended.
The correlation between berry consumption and heart health is strong. Which berries, though? All of them. That includes probably one of your favorites, the strawberry. Strawberries contain anthocyanins. Harvard Medical School research suggests that anthocyanins have several effects on the body. They lower blood pressure, and they make blood vessels more elastic – which is great news if you’re trying to remove plaque buildup.
Gotta get your cruciferous vegetables. File cabbage under the ‘plaque-removal adjacent’ category. It’s benefits aid the processes that in turn aid the removal of plaque buildup in your arteries. According to Harvard Medical School, “All varieties of cabbage (red, green, or the paler Savoy cabbage) are high in vitamin C and low in calories. A half-cup contains about 45% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C, but just 14 calories. Cabbage is also a good source of fiber and other vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A and potassium.”
Go nuts, everyone. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition determined that, compared with those on a regular diet, those consuming a walnut-enriched diet had: lower total cholesterol (by about 7 mg/dL, representing a 3% greater reduction), lower LDL cholesterol (by about 5.5 mg/dL, a 4% greater reduction), lower triglycerides (by about 5.7 mg/dL, a 5.5% greater reduction), and lower apoprotein B (a protein linked to cardiovascular disease) by nearly 4 mg/dL.
All that science means: simply adding walnuts to your daily intake can make a drastic improvement for your heart health.
Vitamin A, fiber, and protein. That’s what spinach brings to the table – and in full force, too. Spinach is so versatile and delicious that it’s an easy add to increase heart health. In fact, it’s best paired with other items on this list. Sauteed spinach with olive oil (next item) and garlic is a tasty way to benefit your arteries.
We’ve told you why monounsaturated fats are good, and why antioxidants are good, and why anti-inflammatory properties are good. Well, olive oil has them all! But, buyer beware: many olive oils on the shelves of grocery stores are extremely low-grade and may not even be olive oil at all. Do your research into specific brands and the quality of the oil itself.
If you haven’t caught on by now, there’s a theme to this list. It’s basically just “Eat real food.” That’s the entire idea…plaque buildup can be removed slowly over time if you have the will-power to simply take out the white bread, the cheese, the red meat, the processed “food”, the sugar, THE GARBAGE. Just eat actual, naturally occurring foods – like asparagus. Asparagus is full protein, fiber and 404 milligrams of potassium. Potassium is an ideal compound to lower blood pressure. Asparaptine is in asparagus as well, which helps improve blood flow and in turn helps lower blood pressure.
End it on a sweet note, shall we? Watermelon is probably the easiest to eat on this list, as it oh-so-sweet and eternally delicious. Plus, anything that reminds us of summertime is a good thing, right? According to the Mayo Clinic, “Vitamin A is important for skin and eye health. Vitamin B6 helps your body break down the protein you eat, and is also important for the immune system and nerve function. Vitamin C helps strengthen the immune system and aids in the absorption of iron. Potassium is helpful in lowering blood pressure and is important for nerve function as well.”
Watermelon has all of those compounds.