5 All Natural Ways to Healthier Arteries
Clogged or hardening arteries, also know as atherosclerosis, is a serious and in some instances deadly prognosis since it forms plaques that stick to the artery walls from cholesterol, calcium, cellular waste and fatty substances. The plaques narrow the arteries which then restrict circulation and in advanced cases can cause heart attacks or strokes when blood flow becomes blocked to the heart or brain. In an effort to avoiding this fate here are 5 ways to keep your arteries clear and healthy.
1. Green Tea
Green tea contains antioxidants called catechins that help to keep arteries clear by lowering LDL bad cholesterol, lowering triglyceride levels and reducing LDL oxidation. In a Japanese study, patients were interviewed about lifestyle characteristics before undergoing coronary arteriography to determine levels of atherosclerosis. Men who reported drinking 2-4 cups of green tea a day had significantly less narrowing of the arteries than those who drank one cup or none.
2. Rosemary and sage
Rosemary and sage contain a phytochemical called carnosic acid. The antioxidant activity of carnosic acid helps to reduce arterial plaque by preventing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Carnosic acid has also been shown to inhibit enzymes that cause changes to smooth muscle cells within the arteries associated with atherosclerosis. Dried leaves of rosemary or sage contain 1.5 to 2.5% carnosic acid. Herbal supplements offer a more concentrated source.
3. Tomato sauce
Tomatoes are rich in a powerful antioxidant called lycopene which can help to prevent the formation of plaque in the arteries. In a Finnish study involving 520 participants, researchers found that lower than average levels of lycopene in the blood were linked to an 18% increase in arterial wall thickness. Lycopene is more easily absorbed by the body when tomatoes are cooked and eaten together with fat, so tomato sauce made with olive oil is an excellent source.
Several animal studies have shown that allicin, an organosulfur compound in garlic, reduces atherosclerotic plaque formation. In a pilot study on humans, 19 patients with atherosclerotic disease were treated with either aged garlic extract or a placebo. After one year, scans showed that garlic significantly slowed the accumulation of coronary artery calcification. Aged garlic extract is available as a supplement in capsule form.
5. Dark chocolate
Oxidation of LDL cholesterol leads to the development of plaques in the arteries. Flavonoids in dark chocolate inhibit LDL oxidation, reducing atherosclerosis. In one study, participants were assigned to either a low flavonoid diet or a diet which included dark chocolate. After four weeks, LDL was extracted from blood samples and subjected to oxidation. The chocolate diet slowed LDL oxidation rates by about 8% compared to the low flavonoid diet.
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