Heart disease is the number one killer on the planet and considered one of the most preventable. One in three deaths in the United States is from heart disease, which is generally caused by clogged arteries. (1) Preventing coronary artery disease is important. Luckily, we don’t have to take tons of medication to unclog arteries. Simple actions like maintaining a healthy weight, increasing physical activity, quitting smoking, and eating a heart-healthy diet can promote a healthy heart. (2)
What we eat matters. It can help unclog arteries, prevent heart disease, and even let us live longer. But how do we know which healthy foods are best to keep our heart healthy?
Ten Foods That Help Unclog Arteries:
1. Fatty, Cold-water Fish
Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory which is good to unclog arteries. Cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, and sardines are excellent sources for omega-3s. (3) Adding these fish twice per week helps to unclog arteries and decrease blood pressure. (4)
Avocados are a wonder-food, increasing your “good” cholesterol while lowering your “bad” cholesterol. This “good” cholesterol, HDL, helps keep arteries clear. (3) Avocados are also rich in potassium, which helps decrease blood pressure and lowers our risk for a stroke. (4) Enjoy avocados as an alternative to butter, mayonnaise, and salad dressing.
3. Broccoli (and Leafy Greens)
Broccoli is a king of heart-healthy vegetables. But frankly, all cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and other leafy greens (which may deserve a spot of their own), are terrific for preventing clogged arteries. (3) This is a great sub for grains, as it is packed with fiber and good for overall heart health. (4)
Full of antioxidants, berries of all kinds (strawberries, blueberries, even cranberries) contribute to healthy hearts and healthy arteries. (6) They are anti-inflammatory, help decrease blood pressure, and reduce “bad” cholesterol or LDL. (4) The perfect dessert or sweet snack for any occasion without any of the guilt.
The main component in turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory called curcumin. (5,6) This compound directly reduces damage to arterial walls, unclogging the plaque build-up. (3) Add a little spice in your life and get creative with powerfully positive turmeric.
6. Green Tea
Green tea acts as an antioxidant to reduce inflammation, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, and prevent cell damage. (4) Since, these characteristics all act to unclog your arteries and improve the artery walls, green tea is a great choice for our heart health. (6)
The American Heart Association recommends three to five servings of nuts per week. (3,4,5,6) Nuts help unclog arteries as they are rich in unsaturated fats, magnesium (which hinders plaque build-up and cholesterol), and fiber. In particular, almonds and walnuts are great sources for magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids. (5)
Asparagus’ benefit to our health stems from the fiber and minerals which lower blood pressure and prevent blood clots. It alleviates inflammation and lowers cholesterol. (6) The perfect vegetable in the springtime, asparagus can give you the benefits however you cook it– steamed, grilled, roasted, or sauteed.
9. Whole Grains
Grains have a bad reputation, but that pertains to processed grains, like cereal, bread, and pasta. Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and particularly oats are a different story. (4, 5) These healthy foods improve cholesterol levels and protect the heart. (5) So, you can have your rice cake, and eat it, too.
10. Olive Oil
As a staple in many healthy eating lifestyles, the benefits of olive oil are well documented. (4) It’s packed with antioxidants that relieve inflammation and lowers blood pressure. (4) Plus, olive oil is easy to use instead of butter, salad dressing, and sauces– drizzle over veggies to boost the benefits of healthy meals and snacks.