So you’ve probably heard of “clogged” arteries and how they can boost your risk for a heart attack or stroke.]
But how do you get them? And can you unclog them?
Some people can visualize a clogged artery whenever they see a cheeseburger and French fries. For a long time, high fat and cholesterol foods were believed to contribute to the plaque on the sides of arterial walls, making it harder for blood to flow through.
Arteries are vessels that carry blood from the heart throughout your body. If plaque makes the vessel smaller and more rigid, the heart has to work a lot harder to get blood through.
This is what puts you at risk.
Arterial plaques develop when “bad” LDL cholesterol sticks to the side of arteries. This cholesterol can be genetic in some cases, but in most it is lifestyle-related. High sugar and processed foods are the biggest contributors to arterial plaques, while a sedentary lifestyle can also play a role.
It’s not clear if existing arterial plaque can be removed without surgery. But you can may be able to prevent the formation of future plaques by adopting a healthier lifestyle.
Here is a healthy artery action plan:
Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet: Just like years of bad eating can damage your body, good eating can help it heal. A heart-healthy diet features good healthy fats, and fiber, and is low in sugar and processed foods.
Good fats come from food like nuts, avocado, olives, olive oil, and fish. Limiting the amount of saturated fats, from butter and fatty meat, is also recommended.
Eating fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains can help boost fiber intake.
Move More: Exercise can also help get blood flowing and prevent potential cardiac issues. If you’re not currently physically active, start slow with a walk once or twice per week. Slowly build up to at least 30 minutes of exercise five times per week.
Lose Weight: If you start eating better and moving more, weight loss will likely follow. Extra weight increases LDL, which can boost the risk of plaque buildup.
Stop Smoking And Limit Drinking: Quitting smoking will instantly allow your health to begin rebounding. It may help raise “good” HDL, which helps clear LDL from arterial walls.
Too much alcohol can also contribute to plaque buildup, so limit alcohol to one or two standard-sized drinks per day.