The number one killer of Americans is heart disease. Plaque buildup in the arteries is what causes this disease and it puts patients at risk for stroke and heart attack due to blocking blood flow. The typical American diet puts most people at risk for potentially developing heart disease at some point in life.
However, dietary modifications and lifestyle changes work to lower this risk. There are certain foods that are artery-friendly and help to prevent plaque formation and eventual blockage.
Avocados are well-known for their ability to reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol, a balance that is critical for artery health. A Mexican study concluded that including avocados in your daily diet may reduce bad cholesterol levels by as much as 17 percent. This food can be added to salads and sandwiches quickly and easily.
Olive oil and heart health often go hand in hand and for good reason. This type of olive oil reduces bad cholesterol and provides the body with healthy fats. A 2011 study concluded that regular olive oil consumption reduces the risk of stroke by as much as 41 percent. Add this oil to salads and pasta at least once a day.
Whole grains help to lower bad cholesterol thanks to containing high amounts of soluble fiber. This type of fiber leeches onto the cholesterol and removes it so that it is unable to build up in the arteries. A diet with adequate whole grains not only reduces cholesterol levels, but it helps to prevent buildup. Oatmeal, brown rice and whole wheat breads and cereals are great sources.
Certain foods have plant sterols added and these compounds work to reduce cholesterol levels. This is due to these compounds needing cholesterol to go to work, so they use up the bad cholesterol in the body so it is unable to build up. Fortified margarine, milk and orange juice contain plant sterols.
Nuts are known for containing the healthy fats necessary for optimal heart health. They contain alpha-linoleic acid, omega-3 fatty acids and monosaturated fats. These works to lower bad cholesterol levels in the body. Walnuts and almonds are popular choice and just a half a handful a day provides you with adequate nutrition.
This green vegetable works hard to unclog the arteries. This is done by removing clots and decreasing inflammation. Asparagus can be consumed by itself or added to a variety of dishes, such as pastas, salads and soups.
This vegetable helps to prevent calcium from damaging the arteries due to its high vitamin K content. It helps to lower cholesterol and it also aids in healthy blood pressure regulation. Broccoli is a great snack, but you can also add just a cup a day to salads, soups and pasta dishes to get more vitamin K in your diet.
This food is very rich in both polyphenols and fiber. Fiber helps to prevent cholesterol buildup and polyphenols are a compound that works to reduce triglycerides and bad cholesterol. Persimmons are also very high in antioxidants, offering an overall protective effect. Add this to salads or make a marmalade or jam.
Salmon is often touted as a heart-healthy fish because like nuts, it contains an array of healthy fats. The healthy fats in salmon help to increase good cholesterol, reduce triglyceride levels and decrease inflammation. You can also eat mackerel, tuna and herring and get the same benefits.
This exotic fruit is rich in phytochemicals and these chemicals encourage nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide helps to prevent artery clogging and works to regulate blood flow. Pomegranate juice is very popular, but you can also make fruit salads and smoothies to get more pomegranate in your diet.
Turmeric contains curcumin and this is what offers up the heart-healthy benefits. This spice helps the arteries by eliminating fatty deposits and decreasing inflammation. Turmeric can be added to a wide array of dishes or you can drink turmeric tea to reap the benefits.
100 percent pure orange juice is chock full of antioxidants that work to improve blood vessel function. This juice also helps to prevent high blood pressure. Drink two cups of this juice per day and it is best if you juice fresh oranges because this ensures that you get every nutrient possible.
Cinnamon makes a great tea and it sweetens a piece of toast, but this spice also offers up to a 26 percent reduction in bad cholesterol. It also helps to stop plague buildup on the walls of the arteries. Add a few teaspoons a day to your diet and this is sufficient to experience the benefits.
This algae is rich in minerals, vitamin, carotenoids, powerful antioxidants and proteins. Regular consumption helps to regulate healthy blood pressure and relax the walls of the arteries. Those who add algae to their diet may experience up to 10 percent lower bad cholesterol levels and up to 15 percent higher good cholesterol levels.
This favorite holiday side dish has been shown to be excellent for the heart because it is a rich source of potassium. Studies conclude that regularly drinking 100 percent pure cranberry juice increases good cholesterol and reduces bad cholesterol. Those who drink it regularly also enjoy a 40 percent reduction in heart disease risk.
That morning cup of java may help to reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 20 percent. These benefits are associated with two to four cups of coffee each day. Of course, drinking more than four could actually do more harm than good for some people due to the caffeine content.
Green tea is a well-rounded beverage that offers many different health benefits due to containing cetachin. This antioxidant stops the body from absorbing cholesterol and it also helps to ward off obesity. Enjoy one or two cups per day for maximum benefits.
Cheese often gets a bad reputation, but it is effective in helping to prevent heart problems and stroke. Regular and moderate consumption also helps to control blood pressure. Ideally, you will get three servings each day.
This refreshing fruit helps to widen the blood vessels by stimulating nitric oxide production. This is aided by L-Citrulline, a type of antioxidant. Just a cup of fresh watermelon each day offers these benefits.
This leafy green vegetable helps to unclog the arteries and decrease blood pressure. It is rich in both potassium and folate which aids in reducing your risk of heart disease by as much as 11 percent when you eat fresh spinach every day.