Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the tissues in the body. Healthy arteries have smooth and elastic inner walls and the blood easily flows through them.
Clogged arteries or atherosclerosis is the buildup of fatty and fibrous material within the arteries. It is the underlying condition that leads to coronary heart disease, stroke or other circulatory issues. Atherosclerosis may affect all arteries, particularly the coronaries (carry blood to the heart), the carotids (carry blood to the brain) and peripheral arteries (transport blood to the legs).
What causes clogged arteries?
Atherosclerosis refers to the narrowing, hardening and thickening of the arteries. A layer of endothelial cells keeps the smooth and elastic lining of the artery walls. This allows the blood to flow throughout the body. A few factors can damage the endothelial layer, such as high levels of homocysteine, platelet cells and free radicals from antioxidant deficiency or toxic substances. Moreover, high levels of homocysteine and a lack of vitamin C may damage the degradation of ground substance. This gel-like substance maintains the integrity of the epithelial barrier.
Atheroma, or fatty material, starts to accumulate in the artery lining walls. As it is a foreign material, it leads to body inflammation. The arteries try to eliminate the inflammation by repairing the tissues, thus creating a seal of fibrous material over the core. This forms plague that is made from fatty material, calcium, toxic metals, cholesterol, fibrin, cellular waste and the fibrous tissue around it. As more fatty material accumulates inside the arteries, the process gradually worsens, causing body inflammation. This condition causes the arteries to harden and narrow.
Even though health experts do not know the real causes of clogged arteries, this process stems from damage to the artery walls. The damage, which facilitates the plague deposition, may be caused by:
• High blood pressure
The levels of high blood pressure increase the deposition of plague. Moreover, it accelerates the hardening of the blocked arteries.
• High cholesterol levels
High levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) are the main contributor to plague formation. However, HDL is considered to get rid of LDL from the blocked arteries and carry it back to the liver, where it is completely removed.
Smoking is thought to increase the process of atherosclerosis in the arteries of the legs, the heart and the aorta.
• High blood sugar
People who are suffering from high blood pressure or diabetes have a high risk of artery plague formation.
• Other factors that contribute to clogged arteries include stress, family history, obesity, heavy metal exposure, high levels of triglycerides, sedentary life and chronic inflammation caused by arthritis, lupus or infections. Moreover, oxidative stress through a lack of vitamin C, fiber, potassium, magnesium and other antioxidants may be another cause of atherosclerosis. Also, dietary factors include processed starches, a diet rich in sugar and fats damaged from overheated oils.
What are the potential consequences of clogged arteries?
The consequences of clogged arteries and arterial plague depend on where the arterial build-up accumulates. Clogged arteries may cause numerous medical conditions, such as:
• Coronary artery disease
When plague accumulates in the coronary arteries, it leads to heart disease or coronary artery disease. Namely, the plague narrows and blocks the coronary arteries and the heart muscle cannot get enough blood. Coronary heart disease may cause heartbeat issues, shortness of breath and chest pain (angina). Emotional stress also contributes to angina. Moreover, this condition can cause heart attack and even death.
• Carotid artery disease
When plague accumulates in the carotid arteries, it leads to carotid artery disease. Namely, plague narrows and blocks the carotid arteries, which may cause stroke symptoms. Other symptoms of carotid artery disease are loss of balance, unexplained falls, dizziness, trouble walking, paralysis, speech difficulty, blurry vision, loss of consciousness, severe headaches, confusion, weakness and breathing problems.
• Peripheral artery disease
When plague accumulates in the pelvis, legs and arms, it results in peripheral artery disease. If the peripheral arteries are narrowed or blocked, the amount of oxygen in the legs is reduced, so you may experience numbness, pain or infection in the feet and the arms, gangrene and delayed injuries to the feet.
• Renal artery disease
When plague accumulates in the renal arteries, it leads to chronic kidney disease. This condition may weaken the function of the kidneys. Some of the most common symptoms of chronic kidney disease include tiredness, loss of appetite, concentration trouble, nausea, itchiness or numbness, swelling in the hands and the feet, high blood pressure and kidney failure.
Natural foods that unclog blocked arteries
Doctors usually prescribe cholesterol-reducing drugs, such as beta-blockers or statin drugs. These drugs hinder the progression of plague buildup.
Nevertheless, there are certain types of food that can help you to unclog arteries naturally:
Turmeric is a spice used in the Ayurvedic and Indian cuisine. Curcumin, the main polyphenol in turmeric, has potent cardio-protective properties. The extract of turmeric is considered to lower high LDL and the deposition of plague in the arteries.
A 2011-study in the Journal of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research showed that turmeric extract can reduce cholesterol levels and hinder atherosclerosis lesion. Moreover, curcumin can prevent carotid artery disease.
Due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties, ginger effectively treats atherosclerosis. Moreover, gingerols and shogaols, heart-protective compounds found in ginger, can reduce cholesterol levels and prevent plague formation in the arteries.
A 2000-study in the Journal of Nutrition found that ginger extract may prevent atherosclerotic lesion in the aortic areas, reduce high levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood and slow the aggregation of LDL.
Drink lemon water every morning to improve your heart health. Lemon is thought to lower cholesterol levels and prevent oxidative damage in the arteries.
Lemons are high in vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that reduces cholesterol, strengthens the arteries, lowers inflammation, hinders platelet aggregation and increases HDL.
4. Ground flaxseed
Flaxseed is very beneficial for heart health. Ground flaxseed is rich in alpha-linoleic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid, which reduces blood pressure and inflammation. Moreover, it unclogs blocked arteries.
A 1997-study in the Journal of Atherosclerosis found that ground flaxseed slowed the progression of aortic atherosclerosis by 46 %. According to the researchers, taking ground flaxseed in moderation effectively reduces hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis. Use ground flaxseed rich in omega-3 acid instead of pre-ground flaxseed, as its polyunsaturated fats break down to oxygen and became rancid.
5. Sesame seed
Sesame seeds unclog blocked arteries efficiently, too. Moreover, they slow the progression of atherosclerosis.
A 2006-study in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that the content of fatty acid in sesame oil may prevent the formation of atherosclerosis, reduce triglycerides and blood cholesterol levels.
6. Pomegranate juice
The content of punicic acid and antioxidants in pomegranate juice are considered to reduce the formation of artery plague, unclog blocked arteries and prevent atherosclerosis. Moreover, this juice has nutrients, such as selenium and magnesium, necessary for heart health.
A 2009-study in the American Journal of Cardiology found that the consumption of pomegranate juice on a daily basis for half a year hindered the progression of coronary artery disease.
7. Fermented cabbage
Kimchi is a probiotic Korean recipe, made from hot peppers and fermented cabbage, is considered to prevent atherosclerosis.
A 2007-study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that 3-94-hydroxy-3,5-dimethoxyphenyl, an active compound found in Kimchi prevented the progression of atherosclerosis. Fermented cabbage is also considered to get rid of toxins, such as insecticide chloropyrifos and bisphenol A.
Cinnamon is thought to reduce some contributors of heart disease and atherosclerosis. A 2003-study in the Journal of Diabetes Care found that using cinnamon on a daily basis may reduce triglycerides, glucose and cholesterol levels. Moreover, it also showed that cinnamon may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
9. Cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, which can reduce high cholesterol levels. Moreover, cayenne pepper can lower the risk of heart attack and stroke and enhance blood circulation as well.
A 2009-study found that capsaicin might prevent vascular and pulmonary complications related to highly-active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) drugs.
Garlic is one of the best choices for treating clogged arteries. According to the researchers, garlic can reduce blood pressure, prevent heart disease and atherosclerosis.
A 1999-study in the Journal of Atherosclerosis found that garlic can prevent the buildup of plague in the arteries.
Moreover, a 1997-study in the Journal of Nutrition found that garlic had positive effects on the treatment and prevention of atherosclerosis. In addition, garlic can lower the risk of heart attack and stroke by 50 %, because it works as a blood thinner.
Other natural remedies for atherosclerosis
Other natural foods that can treat and prevent clogged arteries include:
• Chia seeds
• Coconut oil
• Fenugreek seeds
Dietary nutrients and supplements that can prevent atherosclerosis are methyl donators, including vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid, choline, and antioxidants, like Vitamin E, vitamin C, zeaxanthin, lutein, extract of pine bark and grape seeds.
Other supplements, like selenium, magnesium, copper, resveratrol, chromium and trimethylglycine, as well as nutrients, such as vitamin B3, vitamin D, L-arginine, coenzyme Q10 and fish oil, are beneficial for the treatment and prevention of atherosclerosis, too.
Last, but not the least, doing regular exercise is also important for unclogging arteries. Therefore, stress-reducing exercises, like yoga, meditation, tai chi, and aerobic exercises, walking, gardening and running can also help prevent atherosclerosis. Do exercises for half an hour a day for 5 days.