According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Roughly 25% of the deaths each year in the U.S. is contributed to heart disease, with more than half of those deaths being men. What makes these statistics even worse is that heart disease is not only completely preventable, but can be reversible as well.
The American Heart Association states that over 42 million men and women live with some form of cardiovascular disease. While more men in the United States suffer from heart disease, more women die from it on a yearly basis. Some of the risk factors for heart disease and eventually a heart attack are high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, and high cholesterol. Men and women who smoke tend to be at a higher risk as well, along with people who are morbidly obese and maintain bad eating habits.
Thankfully, what you eat can have a direct impact on your heart health, as well as your arteries. You just have to make sure you are eating the right foods and taking the necessary precautions. Studies have shown that a heart healthy diet can not only prevent future heart disease, but can reverse it as well over time.
Research was done and fifteen heart-healthy foods that can assist with improving your health and lowering your risk for heart disease in the future.
There Are Natural Ways to Prevent a Heart Attack or Stroke
Your arteries are the rivers within you that continually transport essential nutrients and oxygen from your heart to the rest of your body.
A big part of staying healthy and keeping your arteries clean is your diet. After all, as they say, you are what you eat—it makes sense that your health reflects what you put into your body.
If you eat a lot of processed foods laden with saturated fats, chemicals, and toxins, all that gunk is going to cling to and clog up your arteries over time—increasing your risk of a serious heart-related problem, such as a heart attack or devastating stroke.
It’s been reported over and over that eating a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables (preferably organic) can really help prevent heart disease and other life-threatening ailments. It also helps scrub away built-up clogging plaque in our arteries.
There’s power in knowing that we have the choice to eat and consume healing, healthy foods that can help keep us healthy and strong.
Below is a list of some very special foods that are particularly effective in keeping arteries clean.
Eat garlic and eat it regularly—at least a clove a day. Raw or cooked, garlic adds a wonderful flavoring to all kinds of recipes, from soups and casseroles to salad dressing and roasted vegetables.
Dating back to ancient times, garlic has a long history of use in treating all kinds of heart-related diseases and hypertension. Studies have shown that high doses of garlic (2,400 mg of deodorized garlic per day) significantly lowers both diastolic and systolic blood pressure.
Also, studies have shown that eating it regularly can reduce harmful cholesterol by 10 percent or more and may prevent blood clots from forming.
Eating one to four cloves a day is estimated to provide 4,000 mcg of allicin, one of garlic’s most beneficial compounds. If you prefer to take a garlic supplement instead of eating raw garlic because of the strong smell, look for one with the active ingredient “alliin,” because this substance is relatively odorless until it is converted into allicin in the body.
Red seedless grapes are a good source of lutein—a carotenoid that’s been shown to help reduce early atherosclerosis. Recent studies have shown that lutein also helps prevent thickening of the carotid artery in the neck, an indication of atherolscrosis. It also lowers inflammation of LDL cholesterol in artery walls.
Concord Grape Juice
Juice made from whole Concord grapes is a powerful artery-clearing wonder—both grape-skin and grape-seed extract together have excellent heart health properties. They contain:
Quercetin, an antioxidant that prevents LDL cholesterol from sticking to the walls of arteries.
Resveratrol, which removes inflammation and blood clots
Procyanidins, which helps keep blood vessels clear
You may have heard of red wine’s relaxing effect on the arteries. A new study indicates that Concord grape juice stimulates arterial relaxation in a similar manner—in fact, it even induced a prolonged relaxation effect (up to six hours) that has not yet been reported with red wine.
Dr. Valérie Schini-Kerth and a team of researchers of the Universite Louis Pasteur de Strasbourg, France, found that Concord grape juice stimulated the production of nitric oxide in endothelial cells, providing a vasorelaxation effect. It is known that nitric oxide is important in the body’s natural system for maintaining healthy, flexible blood vessels and supporting healthy blood pressure.
This small but potent fruit contains over 17 compounds that help clear clogged arteries of plaque even better than vitamin supplements. These compounds are found in the anthocyanin that give cherries their red color.
Cherries hold more antioxidant power than well-known vitamin C and E supplements. What’s more, because cherries are whole food, they contain fiber and it is easier to absorb all of their wonderful nutrients.
Perfect to toss into your breakfast cereal, strawberries are also loaded with antioxidants, including vitamin C and E, ellagic acid, assorted carotenoids, and anthocyanin. They can cut cholesterol levels by 10 percent. Try to buy organic strawberries as non-organic strawberries tend to be heavily sprayed with pesticides.
Apples and Grapefruit
Both of these fruits contain pectin, a soluble fiber that lowers cholesterol. It has been shown in animal studies that pectin will slow down the progression of atherosclerosis and the clogging of arteries.
Apples are a rich source of “quercetin,” including potassium and magnesium—minerals that keep your blood pressure under control. A French study found that eating two apples a day can help prevent and reverse “hardening” of the arteries. The red delicious and granny smith varieties are also rich in procyanidins.
Full of cholesterol-lowering fiber, potassium, beta carotene, folate, and vitamin C, sweet potatoes help to lower your blood pressure and keep your arteries clear.
Drinking just one cup a day will give great antioxidant protection. The flavonoids in green tea are known as “polyphenols,” powerful antioxidants.
Green tea also contains procyanidins, which prevents blood clots from forming and promotes healthy endothelium—the tissues that line your blood vessels and heart.
Hawthorn berry extract can calm palpitations, help restore blood vessel elasticity, ease fluid build-up and stop fatty degeneration in the heart, help dilate coronary arteries, and reduce blood pressure.
Hawthorn can be used by those already on cardiac medication and may help you decrease your dosage.
To make a tea from them, buy a bag of organically grown berries at a natural food store and steep them in hot water. Hawthorn has not been shown to have any adverse side effects.
Research has shown that not all fats are created equal. Olive oil, a monounsaturated fat, is on the list of “good” oils (other good sources of monounsaturated fats include avocados and nuts). Studies have shown that particles of LDL (bad) cholesterol that contain monounsaturated fats are less likely to become oxidized. This is important because only oxidized cholesterol is able to stick to your artery walls and form plaques.
Using a “cold-pressed” organic olive oil as your main source of oil may cut your risk of coronary heart disease almost in half.
Of course, remember—no matter how “healthy” the fat, it is still fattening. So go easy and do not eat to much. A good strategy is to avoid the bad fats, such as the cookies, ice cream, red meats, salt-laden cheese and butter, and to replace them with the healthier unsaturated fats.
While we’re on the subject of oils, a tip: Don’t use canola oil—unless it is organic, the overwhelming odds are that it is made from genetically modified canola.
Again, not all fats are alike. Omega-6 and omega-3 are both fatty acids; while the former has inflammatory effects, the latter fights inflammation. Most people eat diets overloaded with omega-6, which is found in vegetable oils like soybean or corn oil.
However, fish, especially fatty fish like salmon, herring, and tuna, are some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acid nutrients. The American Heart Association recommends including two fatty-fish meals a week in your diet.
Wild salmon, in addition to tasting great, is really rich in omega-3, which makes the blood less likely to clot within your arteries, thus preventing cholesterol from becoming damaged or oxidized. (Farmed salmon is not recommended because it is full of toxins and far less omega-3s).
A nice combination for dinner is to include salmon and spinach—which will give you plenty of omega-3, vitamin C, and vitamin A, all very good for your arteries.
Note: It’s recommended to limit your consumption of tuna and halibut, as deep-water fish are known to have more toxins—salmon is definitely better.
We’ve already mentioned spinach. Why is it so good for you? It’s chock full of vitamins C and A. Both of these vitamins help prevent cholesterol from becoming “oxidized,” which in turn prevents clogging plaque from building up in your arteries.
This alternate leafy green is an excellent source of vitamins. another antioxidant that helps prevent free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol. Eating a diet rich in vitamin E has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of developing clogged arteries.
Tomatoes are rich in carotenoid lycopene, an antioxidant that can nearly halve your risk of atherosclerosis. Tomato juice, soup, and ketchup (low-sodium choices) give you a more concentrated form of the antioxidant than fresh tomatoes.
Also, antioxidant-rich tomatoes may make LDL cholesterol much less susceptible to becoming oxidized—a first step in the formation of artery-clogging plaque formation.
All beans contain both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, two important parts of your diet that help remove cholesterol-containing bile rom your body. However, garbanzo beans are one of the best on the fiber front. They are also known to help prevent heart disease.
So, those are a few foods that are particularly cleansing—there are also several effective herbs that are easy to add to your diet. Happy eating folks! I wish you all great heart health!
Note: This information is summarized for its educational value and should not be used for the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of disease. It should not be used to replace the services of a qualified practitioner.