Arteries play a crucial role in keeping us well and alive. In essence, arteries are blood vessels that supply oxygenated blood from the heart to other parts of the body.
The artery is made from three different layers, namely:
- the innermost layer called the intima
- the layer of the artery that regulates high pressures from the heart called the media
- the connective tissue that primarily functions to connect nearby tissues to arteries called the adventitia
The aorta is the largest artery, and is made up of a wide network of arterioles or smaller arteries and capillaries; all of which extend throughout the body. Smooth inner arterial walls and efficient circulation are two distinct characteristics of healthy arteries.
The development of plaque buildup inside the walls of the arteries results in clogged arteries that impede and slow down the flow of blood in different parts of the body. Plaque is made from different types of substances that most commonly circulate in the bloodstream such as calcium, cholesterol, fat, fibrin, and cellular waste to name a few.
Individuals that have high levels of bad cholesterol or LDL and lower good cholesterol levels or HDL are known to be at higher risk of being diagnosed with clogged arteries. Clogged arteries, when left untreated, can result in debilitating conditions such as stroke, carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease, and heart attack.
With all of these morbid conditions in mind, it becomes very important for us to make sure the arteries are in excellent condition at all times. The easiest and most effective way to ensure healthy arteries is developing a healthier lifestyle and diet. It is important to note that there are many food items that help in promoting smooth, unclogged arteries as well as promote a healthier cardiovascular system.
In this article, we will discuss the top ten superfoods that cleanse and help maintain healthy arteries:
Medical studies reveal that avocados are powerful in lowering the bad cholesterol level in the bloodstream. As mentioned earlier, high levels of LDL or bad cholesterol leads to plaque buildup. Regular consumption of avocados is also known to boost the HDL or good cholesterol levels in the bloodstream.
Furthermore, avocados contain Vitamin E, a nutrient that helps in the prevention of cholesterol oxidation in tandem with potassium; a nutrient found to be effective in lowering blood pressure.
It is recommended to eat at least one avocado daily. It can be used as a healthier substitute for cream and butter on bread. It is a very versatile superfood as it can be used in sandwiches, salads, dips, side dish, and soups to name a few.
Olive oil is categorized under superfoods mainly due to its positive cardiovascular and heart health benefits. The compounds found in olive oils are rich in antioxidants called polyphenols and monosaturated fats. Combine antioxidants with healthy fatty acids deliver positive effects to cholesterol levels as evidenced by a reduction in bad cholesterol or LDL levels and boost in good cholesterol or HDL levels. Consumption of olive oil can significantly reduce the chances of plaque build-up altogether.
Turmeric isn’t just a staple spice in Indian cuisine but is a powerful compound that promotes healthy arteries too. For one, it functions as an anti-inflammatory agent that ensures arteries are free from problems such as a blockage. The secret ingredient that makes turmeric a superfood is a curcumin, a substance that significantly reduces inflammation; one of the major causes of hardening of the arterial walls.
Based on a 2009 study by French researchers, turmeric’s curcumin significantly reduces fatty deposits in the arteries by as much as 26 percent.
Turmeric also contains Vitamin B6, a nutrient known to be crucial in keeping the homocysteine at optimum levels. Higher concentrations of this compound may result in a fast buildup of plaque and blood vessel damage. Lastly, turmeric also helps in lowering the rate of oxidation as well as bad cholesterol or LDL levels in the bloodstream.
Salmon is not only tasty but a heart-healthy food item that helps in keeping the arteries in proper functioning condition. It is one of the food items rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA); both compounds are known to increase good cholesterol or HDL levels. Moreover, these two Omega-3 fatty acid components are proven to reduce triglyceride levels as well as decrease the risk of inflammation within the blood vessels. These benefits, in turn, lower the chances of the development of blood clots in the arterial walls. Lastly, Omega-3 fatty acids sourced from salmon are proven to lower blood pressure levels too.
According to the American Heart Association, it is best to eat at least 2 to 3 servings of salmon per week. One serving equals to two to three servings of salmon. Health experts recommend eating baked or grilled salmon to ensure optimal cardiovascular health.
The exotic fruit, pomegranate, is proven to cleanse the arteries of plaque buildup. This health benefit of pomegranate can be stemmed from the fact that its compounds are rich in antioxidants, specifically Vitamin C and polyphenols. These nutrients boost the production of nitric oxide that helps in keeping the blood flowing through the arteries optimally. In addition, it can help prevent the development of complications such as heart attack and stroke as this fruit greatly reduces the existing plaque that has formed within the arterial walls.
Pomegranate can easily be combined with other healthy food items in salads and smoothies.
Before consuming pomegranate, it is best to consult with a doctor. Pomegranate may produce some unwanted side effects when taken in combination with some prescription medicine.
The inclusion of garlic in your diet is an all-natural, safe, and effective way of cleansing the arteries. Based on lengthy research studies by the Centre for Cardiovascular Pharmacology in Mainz, Germany, regular consumption of garlic can actually prevent the hardening of the aorta, the largest artery in the body. Moreover, eating garlic regularly improves overall arterial health as evidenced by reduced levels of bad cholesterol or LDL. Intake of garlic among the older population is beneficial in that it improves old people’s cardiovascular health.
It is relatively easy to include garlic in one’s daily diet. All you need is one to four cloves of garlic to meet its daily dietary requirement. You can cook using garlic as a primary ingredient such as in the case of stews, casseroles, and soups to name a few. If you are not keen on eating garlic or does not like the taste of garlic, you may prefer taking garlic supplements instead.
A study published by the American Heart Association in 2012 provides us with reliable information that almonds are excellent food items that promote cardiovascular health when taken in moderation. It can lower bad cholesterol or LDL levels by as much as 15 percent.
Almond contains polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids- both of which are helpful in reducing LDL levels as well as increases HDL levels. The healthy regulation of cholesterol in the bloodstream results in the prevention of plaque buildup within the arterial walls. Almonds also contain magnesium, a mineral that prevents the formation of plaque while ensuring normal blood pressure levels too.
According to the American Heart Association, it is best to consume up to 5 servings of almonds each week. Bear in mind that one serving equals to one big handful of almonds. Soaked or roasted almonds are the best to ensure optimal absorption of its healthy nutrients.
A study conducted by the University of Kentucky in 2011 provides us with information that the watermelon fruit is 100% good for the arteries. Watermelon consumption helps in lowering the chances of atherosclerosis- the formation of plaque in the arteries.
Watermelon also contains L-citrulline, an amino acid that helps in keeping blood pressure within the normal level. This compound is also proven to widen the blood vessels, through its effective production of nitric oxide.
Lastly, watermelon contains compounds that alter blood lipids as well as lowering belly fat accumulation. These positive health benefits of watermelon ultimately result in the reduction of risks when it comes to coronary artery plaque buildup and heart disease formation.
Asparagus, one of the most nutritious vegetables, was found to be an excellent artery cleansing superfood too. One of its best traits is that it produces high concentrations of glutathione, an excellent antioxidant that helps in fighting inflammation. It also helps in the prevention of blood vessels as a result of the oxidative process; a condition ultimately leading to the development of blocked or clogged arterial walls.
In addition, asparagus also contains healthy fatty acids namely, alpha-linolenic acid and folic acid- both of which are excellent sources of nutrients that fight against the hardening of the arteries.
Health experts highly recommend preparing steamed, roasted, and stir-fried asparagus for better nutrient absorption.
According to research studies conducted at the Imperial College of London, consuming at least a cup of broccoli can help in keeping your arteries free from plaque buildup. This vegetable contains sulforaphane, a compound that assists the body in the utilizing protein, which in turn prevents the formation of plaque within the arteries.
Broccoli is also high in Vitamin K, that primarily functions to prevent the formation of calcium- a nutrient that can lead to blocked, damaged, and clogged arteries. This vegetable also boasts high fiber content, thus it also has positive benefits when it comes to normalizing blood pressure and cholesterol levels.