Arteries (from Latin arteria) are flexible, elastic tubes with muscular walls that expand and contract to pump blood through the body. They are blood vessels which carry oxygenated blood and nutrients to the body’s cells, tissues and organs.
Arteries consist of three layers:
- The inner layer called the intima, lined by a smooth tissue called endothelium.
- The media, a layer of muscle that lets arteries handle the high pressures from the heart
- The adventitia, connective tissue anchoring arteries to nearby tissues
A normal artery is like a new rubber band: flexible, strong, and elastic and allows aerated blood to flow easily. However there are some conditions which lead to narrowing the arteries and making the blood flow more difficult. Such medical condition is known as atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis (or arteriosclerotic vascular disease) is the condition of narrowing and hardening of the arteries because of an excessive plaque build-up around the artery wall. The disease disrupts the normal flow of blood around the body, causing serious cardiovascular complications. Atherosclerosis is especially dangerous because it is hidden deep in the body and not easily detectable. It is a slow, progressive disease.
Atherosclerosis starts when the endothelium becomes damaged (which can be caused by high cholesterol, hypertension, cigarette smoking, unhealthy diet, unhealthy life style), allowing LDL cholesterol to accumulate in the artery wall. Over time, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances accumulate in the wall of the artery and form fatty deposits called plaques.
The plaque clogs up the artery, disrupting the flow of blood around the body. This potentially causes blood clots that can result in life-threatening conditions such as heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
This silent disease, atherosclerosis is the number-one killer in the United States. Atherosclerosis is responsible for more than a quarter of our deaths every year. Yes, you read well. Cancer is number two on the list.
But don’t panic. There are some things you can do to cleanse your arteries and protect your health. Leave the cigarettes, start exercising on a daily basis, and more importantly start consuming the right food.
Here is a list of 11 foods which will lead you to clean arteries:
You can cleanse your arteries in a healthy yet delicious way. Just do what Megan Madden, a registered dietitian in New York, tells you to do – Use thin slices of avocado instead of mayonnaise on your sandwich or toast and you’ll feel the difference.
Avocado is very dense fruit packed with nutrients. It is especially rich in vitamin A. It also contains vitamins B, especially niacin. It contains calcium, folic acid, iron, 9 essential amino acids and potassium as well. It has been shown that the avocado can benefit circulation, lower cholesterol and dilate blood vessels.
It is true that avocados are high in fat but they are high in monounsaturated oleic acid which acts as an antioxidant to block LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.
According to a 1996 study done by researchers in Mexico it was found that people who ate avocado every day for one week experienced an average 17 % drop in total blood cholesterol. What’s more, their levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or “bad” cholesterol decreased and their HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or the so called “good” cholesterol levels climbed.
Using olive oil in your everyday cooking is the best thing you can do for your health. The olive oil is rich in mono and polyunsaturated fats which are known to protect arteries from damaging. According to a 2011 study people on the age of 65 or even older who regularly used olive oil had 41% less chances to have a stroke compared to those who never used olive oil in their life.
Is there a better snack than a handful of nuts? All nuts are good for your health but almonds and walnuts are a real friend to you arteries.
Almonds are rich in vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, and fiber, while walnuts are a great source of an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), monounsaturated fats can help reduce levels of bad cholesterol in your blood and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Salmon (or other fatty fish)
The fish is maybe the least used meat in our everyday diet. But here are some great reasons why you should immediately include it in your daily menu.
Fatty fish such as mackerel, herring, tuna, and salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids- docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) These fatty acids can reduce the risk of developing heart disease by lowering triglyceride levels and decreasing inflammation of the blood vessels and preventing formation of plaque in the arteries. They may even help boost your HDL levels.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA) we should eat at least two servings of salmon a week. One serving of salmon equals 2 to 3 ounces.
NOTE: Always choose grilled or baked salmon since they are better for your overall cardiovascular health.
This versatile crunchy vegetable is one of the best, natural artery-clearing foods in the world. Asparagus contains alpha- linoleic acid and folic acid which fight hardening of the arteries. It also helps your body to produce glutathione- an antioxidant which fights inflammation and prevents damaging oxidation that causes blocked or clogged arteries.
With everyday worries and fast-paced lives we cannot avoid being anxious and nervous all the time. Luckily there are some kinds of food which can help us reduce stress. Such food is broccoli. Rich in fiber broccoli lowers blood pressure and diminishes stress.
The sulforaphane found in the broccoli helps the body use protein and prevents plague build-up in the arteries. Broccoli is also rich in vitamin K, which is needed for bone formation and helps keep calcium from damaging the arteries.
There are many choices on how to consume broccoli: fried, boiled, grilled or if you prefer use them raw as a side dish.
If you are a believer in the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” then start believing in this too. Eating a persimmon a day is even better for your health. A recent research has shown that persimmons which are rich in polyphenols can help decrease levels of LDL cholesterol and also lower triglycerides.
According to a recent study just one teaspoon of cinnamon daily can help you unclog your arteries. Cinnamon is rich in antioxidants which can help reduce cholesterol levels by as much as 26% and at the same time prevent plague build-up.
You can use cinnamon in your morning tea or sprinkle it on your morning coffee.
The favourite fruit during the summer will not only refresh you but it will protect your heart too. The watermelon is rich in amino acid L- citrulline which increases nitric oxide production in your body. Nitric oxide widens blood vessels and causes them to relax.
Nitric oxide also decreases inflammation and lowers blood pressure. A Florida State University study has shown that people given a 4,000mg supplement of L-citrulline lowered their blood pressure in just six weeks.
Watermelon also helps to modify blood lipids and lowers belly fat accumulation. Less fat in the abdominal area lowers the risk of heart disease.
Full with fibers and alpha- linoleic acid these little seeds can lower cholesterol, blood pressure and triglycerides and enable free blood circulation.
Antioxidants found in 100 % orange juice can help improve blood vessel function. According to a study published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011 drinking two glasses of orange juice can help reduce diastolic (resting) blood pressure.
PLEASE SHARE THIS ADVICE WITH YOUR FRIENDS SO THEY CAN FELL THE BENEFITS OF THESE FOODS TOO