Eating healthy might not seem easy these days with all the temptations knocking at your door every day. Still, you’ve got to think about your health and how to avoid more problems in the future. It’s ideal to know that it’s never too late to make a healthy change to your lifestyle. If you decide to go healthy, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting older, but rather that you’re getting wiser. Exercising more, whether it’s going to the gym, taking pilates lessons or just walking to work is the first step towards a healthy life. Then you should consider cutting down on drinking, giving up smoking and trying to cope with the stress at work in a more efficient way. Anyways, if you think these are huge jumps from your actual lifestyle, you can start with baby steps, little changes to your diet which might not affect your everyday habits too much, at first.
So, the things you need to care about more are your heart and your cholesterol level, in order to avoid any risk of heart diseases. One effect of a messy lifestyle that can take anyone by surprise is clogged arteries. Over the years, a plaque made from fat, calcium and other types of natural body waste can build up in your arteries and make things difficult for your health (1, 2). So, what can you do to prevent that?
Foods that unclogs & cleanse your arteries
We’ve comprised a list of 11 foods that unclog arteries. You should think about making them part of your daily diet.
Beans are healthy veggies rich in soluble fibers which are “notorious” for reducing the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream (3, 4). Soluble fiber absorbs it and leaves your arteries clean (5). Moreover, beans contain proteins, vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium and a little bit of sodium (6, 7), which can contribute to keeping your blood vessels elastic (8) and thus reducing the risk of heart disease (9).
Broccoli is not a very popular food. Young people don’t even want to hear about broccoli, but the thing is, this green, cute-looking vegetable is really healthy and should not be ignored anymore. Studies have proved that eating more cruciferous (leafy green vegetables) like broccoli can reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer (10, 11). Moreover, broccoli and all the other cruciferous veggies contain a compound named sulforaphane which is good against inflammation and helps prevent clogs from forming in your arteries (12, 13)
Yes, chocolate. If nobody loves broccoli, everybody loves chocolate. There is even a popular saying that “chocolate can save any of your problems” and that might not be too far from the truth. Chocolate is actually quite healthy and its benefits are proven in numerous researches. One shows that eating chocolate in small amounts can help lower the risk of heart failure (14). Moreover, cocoa beans, the main ingredient in chocolate, contains flavanols (15), a compound which will most definitely keep your heart in good condition (16). One thing you should know, though, is that, in order to get all the health benefits mentioned above, you need to choose that variety of chocolate containing 70% cocoa or even more.
Oats are very rich in soluble fiber which helps lower your cholesterol levels (17) Oats contain Phenolic antioxidants which have been found to prevent cholesterol from sticking to artery walls (18). These compounds, called avenanthramides, significantly suppress the adhesive molecules that “glue” blood cells to artery walls (19). To add to this, you can also add some berries, apples, bananas and Greek yogurt to your morning oats to make your bloodstream even more clean and safe.
Almonds, alongside tree nuts, are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids (20) which are also known as “healthy fats” and are “famous” for reducing inflammation throughout your body and bringing down your blood pressure (21, 22) Almonds and other nuts are also very rich in magnesium (23). Magnesium helps in reducing the buildup of cholesterol plaque in arteries (24), in turn, preventing arteries from getting clogged. Moreover, if you make almonds a good part of your diet, it can help with your history of heart trouble or help you prevent any kind of history of that kind.
6. Olive oil
Salty, fatty butter might be tasty and all, but it’s not as healthy as olive oil. Making a little change between these two can make a whole difference in your heart health. As Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, it helps raise your HDL cholesterol (25) which is the healthy cholesterol carried through your body by high-density lipoproteins. The extra virgin olive oil is also very rich in omega-3s, a compound that is proven to lower blood pressure by reducing inflammation (26).
We hope there’s no one around here who hasn’t tried these really tiny, beautiful relatives of beans because they’re wonderful. Yes, they’re a vegetable with a healthy package attached to them: protein, fiber, calcium, potassium, magnesium (27, 28) and almost no fat at all. There have been extensive studies on rats that have proven that eating lentils can repair your damaged blood vessels (29) and even fight any bad effects of high blood pressure. One recent research, from 2014, proved that lentil-based diets attenuate hypertension and large-artery remodeling in spontaneously hypertensive rats (30).
This might be good news for you because we bet you’re a watermelon fan as is almost any human on this Earth. Who doesn’t like watermelons, right? Watermelons are full of a compound called citrulline (31) which is really good at relaxing your blood vessels (32) and, consequently, at lowering your blood pressure in any situation. Watermelon also helps to modify blood lipids (33) and lowers belly fat accumulation (34). Lesser abdominal area fat lowers the risk of heart diseases (35). Also, let us let you in on a little secret: eating the rind of the watermelon is also good because it contains a lot of healthy fiber for your body to enjoy (36).
This might seem odd for you, but recent studies have shown that egg consumption on a moderate level can reduce the risk of heart disease by 11% (37, 38). The study was conducted during 204-2008, on over 0.5 million adults aged 30-79, recruited from 10 diverse survey sites in China. Participants delivered information about the frequency of their egg consumption and this information was linked to multiple registries and active investigation. The findings showed that daily egg consumption can be associated with a lower risk of CVD (39).
With avocado is hate them or love them. There’s definitely no in the middle and that’s why they’re so “famous” in the healthy eating society of our days. Avocados are a little hard to chop up and cook and you’ve got to learn how to eat them in order to really come to appreciate them. Nevertheless, avocados are an incredible source of monounsaturated fatty acids (71%), polyunsaturated fatty acids (13%) and saturated fatty acids (16%) which help keep healthy blood lipid profiles (40) Avocados help lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol (41). It is also high in vitamin E and potassium (42), which prevents cholesterol oxidation and helps in lowering blood pressure respectively (43).
Remember Popeye who would just eat spinach and suddenly become powerful? Well, spinach really is a good source of healthy nutrients that can get you back in shape whenever and wherever. Spinach is also one of the foods which help unclog arteries in a natural way. One serving of spinach a day can help lower the homocysteine levels in the body, which are linked to heart diseases like atherosclerosis or clogged arteries (44). So, next time you prepare a salad, think about adding more spinach there, or even to your soup or sandwich or even smoothie. Spinach is not that bad, it tastes nice, face it!
There are quite a few green vegetables on this list. Asparagus has to be one of them. It is high in fiber and a phytonutrient called quercetin (45) which prevents plaque from sticking to your arteries (46). Try to include Asparagus in your diet.
Keeping your arteries clean is not a hard thing to do. You just need to add more healthy foods to your diet and learn to combine them in such a way that your lifestyle is both pleasurable and healthy. Yes, these two can happen at the same time. You can do it! It all begins with buying your first serving of spinach, some avocados, and oats. The rest will follow! Stay healthy!