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Did you know that one in three American adults has high cholesterol? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease (first) and stroke (fifth) are among the leading causes of death in the United States—and the common denominator between the two? High cholesterol. (1)
High cholesterol is caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as a diet high in saturated fats, smoking, and chronically high blood pressure (hypertension). It also has a genetic component. So, if someone in your family has or had high cholesterol, there’s a chance you will, too.
But here’s the good news: since one of the major causes of high levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in the blood is diet, it can be remedied by diet as well.
Millions of people all over the world are waking up to the realization that when they eat healthy and nutritious foods, it directly impacts how they feel on a day-to-day basis, and significantly reduces their chances of developing heart disease or having a stroke.
You too can choose to eat a diet rich in foods that clean plaque from your arteries, preventing chronic and life-threatening disease.
Keep reading to find out about 10 foods that unclog your arteries the natural way.
Asparagus is well-known in the scientific community as a cholesterol-reducing food. It works by binding to bile acids and bringing them out of the body to reduce overall cholesterol levels in the blood.
There is no better natural way to clean arteries than to eat foods that flush out LDL cholesterol before it builds up and turns to the plaque.
Asparagus is also rich in fiber, antioxidants, and many essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, E, K, and B-complex vitamins, as well as iron, potassium, and manganese.
You may have heard that avocado is a fatty fruit, so how can it reduce cholesterol? Well, avocado is full of good fats— healthy fats that lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and increase ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, helping to clean out the blood and keep the arteries free from plaque.
Avocado is also high in fiber, which reduces the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream.
One study showed a twenty-two percent reduction in LDL cholesterol and an eleven percent increase of HDL cholesterol on a diet rich in avocado. (5)
3. Chia Seeds
Another food that will clean plaque from arteries, chia seeds have gained popularity in the health food world for their rich nutrient profile.
They’re high in antioxidants, full of vitamins and minerals, and they are made of twenty percent alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (a type of omega-3 fatty acid), thirty-seven percent dietary fiber, and twenty percent protein. That’s a cholesterol-lowering match made in heaven.
When compared to a fatty fish, such as salmon, chia seeds boast a higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are proven to reduce blood pressure and bad cholesterol, as well as inflammation. (2)
4. Fatty Fish
If you’re looking for a protein to complete your meal, reach for a fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, or albacore tuna. These fish are rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Swap out red meat— which can increase cholesterol levels— for these healthy fish choices. The omega-3s will reduce overall cholesterol levels, decrease LDL cholesterol levels, and increase HDL cholesterol levels. (6)
5. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds are another great source of omega-3s ALA. They also contain special compounds called lignans, which are plant pigments with powerful antioxidant properties. These tiny seeds are known to provide countless health benefits, including reducing LDL cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.
The omega-3s and lignans in flax seeds prevent hardening of the arteries and keep plaque from being deposited in the blood vessels. In addition to the omega-3s and lignans, flax seeds contain a surprising amount of fiber, which also is essential to reducing overall cholesterol. (3)
Garlic is one of the most powerful superfoods available. Not only is it antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal, with antioxidant and anti-cancer properties, but it’s also among the top foods that unclog your arteries.
Many studies have proven raw garlic’s ability to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. One study showed that eating just one half to one clove of garlic per day decreased total serum cholesterol levels by nine percent in the participants studied. (7)
RELATED: 30 Garlic Benefits That Will Blow Your Mind
If you’re looking for a healthy snack to munch on while benefiting from a natural way to clean arteries, reach for a handful of nuts.
Nuts— especially almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts— are incredibly nutritious and packed with healthy fats that reduce LDL cholesterol. (8)(9) They’re also a great source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamin E, and many essential minerals.
Another surprising way to clean plaque from arteries? Eat more okra.
A 2007 study compared nine vegetables—including okra and asparagus—for their cholesterol-reducing effects and found okra to be the most powerful. (10) Okra was found to be significantly better at removing carcinogenic bile acids from the body (“bile acid binding”) than any other vegetable tested.
9. Tomato Extract
According to a study recently published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, tomatoes can prevent the development of vascular disease such as atherosclerosis.
A compound called lycopene, found in red fruits and vegetables, and in large concentrations in tomatoes, may have cholesterol-reducing effects.
A 2007 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed a 5.9 percent reduction in total cholesterol concentration and a 12.9 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol concentration on a high tomato diet. (11)
RELATED: Tomato Extract for Healthier Arteries?
Turmeric is a potent medicinal food with healing properties, backed by thousands of scientific studies and peer-reviewed articles.
Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric, which reduces inflammation, prevents cancer, manages diabetes, treats gastrointestinal problems and, of course, reduces cholesterol levels.
One study showed that curcumin can lower overall cholesterol levels by 12 percent and increase HDL cholesterol levels by 29 percent. (12)
So, how can you gain control over your health? It’s actually pretty simple. All you need to do is take advantage of the powerful medicinal foods that nature has to offer.
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