Health & Fitness


When my dad recently went for a blood test, the doctor told him that he has high cholesterol. The results of another test had shown he has high blood pressure, two factors that contribute to clogged arteries

Arteries are the blood vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood from our hearts to the rest of the body. They are normally strong and elastic but progressive clogging of arteries (atherosclerosis) is a serious condition and major factor of cardiovascular diseases, including strokes, heart attacks and peripheral vascular disease.

About 600,000 die every year in the U.S. as a result of cardiovascular disease, which makes it the leading cause of death, as well as being known as a silent killer since there are no symptoms until the problem becomes more serious.

Symptoms of clogged arteries:

The type of arteries clogged determines the symptoms.

Carotid arteries

Carotid artery disease is a condition of clogged arteries in the brain, which happens when plaque blocks or narrows the carotid arteries, and there may also be signs of a stroke present. Symptoms include sudden weakness, breathing problems, severe headaches, confusion, blurry vision, loss of consciousness, paralysis, trouble with speech, trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance and coordination and unexplained falls.

Coronary arteries

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is when plaque blocks or narrows the coronary arteries and the heart muscle cannot get enough blood, which causes chest pain (angina) like a squeezing pressure on your chest, and perhaps even in your back, shoulders, arms, neck or jaw. Angina can sometimes be confused with indigestion symptoms and is also often triggered by stress. Some other symptoms of CHD are shortness of breath and problems with heartbeat.

Renal arteries

Clogged renal arteries in kidneys will lead to chronic kidney disease, which slowly impairs kidney function over time. In the early stages there are no symptoms and if the condition worsens, symptoms can be nausea, loss of appetite, problems with concentrating, tiredness, swelling in hands or feet as well as numbness or itchiness. High blood pressure and kidney failure are also symptoms.

Peripheral arteries

Plaque building up in arms, legs, or pelvis (known as peripheral arteries) causes peripheral arterial disease. The narrowed or blocked arteries cause pain and numbness and sometimes even dangerous infections.

How do arteries get blocked?

Arteriosclerosis means that arteries become hard, thick or narrow. There is a thin layer of endothelial cells lining the arteries that helps to keep the insides smooth and toned and allows blood to keep flowing.

However, there are sometimes factors that damage the endothelial cells, such as platelet cells, antioxidant deficiency, homocysteine levels and free radicals from toxins. Vitamin C deficiency as well as homocysteine degrades the ground substance, a gel-like substance between the cells which helps to maintain the integrity of the epithelial cell barrier.

Plaque accumulates in conditions when certain substances like calcium, fat, cholesterol (such as low density lipoprotein), toxic metals and cellular waste cannot migrate out of the atherosclerotic lesion. There is also a material called fibrin which is accumulated when arteries are clogged.

Although the exact cause of clogged arteries is still unknown, arteriosclerosis is a complex condition that may even begin in childhood and slowly develop as you age. Certain factors including high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes and insulin resistance may damage arteries’ inner layers.

Other factors include obesity, lack of exercise, a type-A personality, elevated triglycerides, infections, chronic inflammation, lupus or heavy metal exposure. High cholesterol levels and fats in the blood are also considered possible causes of arteriosclerosis and on rare occasions, genetic factors may contribute with elevated production of cholesterol linked to arteriosclerosis.

Nutrient imbalances or deficiencies have also been linked to arteriosclerosis, which can be triggered by oxidative stress because of depletion of Vitamin C and other antioxidants, as well as a diet high in processed starches, sugar and harmful fats from overheated oils.

10 foods that will unclog your arteries

You could unclog your arteries and reverse arteriosclerosis with doctor-prescribed drugs that lower cholesterol or beta blockers to lower blood pressure, which help slow the progression of buildup of plaque.

On the other hand, there are also lots of foods that research has shown to be beneficial in preventing and unclogging arteries as well.

  1. Turmeric

This popular spice contains a polyphenol called curcumin that has long been known to be beneficial in its cardio protective effects. Turmeric extract is also thought to reduce LDL cholesterol and the plaque building up in arteries. One 2011 study, published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, found turmeric more effective in reducing cholesterol and suppressing early atherosclerotic lesions than lovastatin, a cholesterol reducing drug, and a 2006 study conducted on mice indicated that curcumin can be beneficial in preventing artery damage associated with blockage of the carotid artery.

  1. Garlic

This is considered one of the top artery-unclogging foods. Garlic has been shown in studies to help lower blood pressure, slow down atherosclerosis and prevent heart disease. One such study, published in 1999 in the journal Atherosclerosis, found garlic to be able to prevent plaque buildup in arteries. Other studies have also found garlic to be beneficial in preventing and treating atherosclerosis and reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke by 50%, most probably because it acts as a thinner of blood.

  1. Ginger

This spice has amazing anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties. Ginger has certain compounds such as shogaols and gingerols, which have the effect of reducing cholesterol, thus preventing the buildup of plaque and unclogging arteries. The journal of nutrition published a study in 2000 which showed that ginger extract can reduce cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, aortic atherosclerotic lesion areas, LDL-linked fat peroxides and aggregation.

  1. Cayenne pepper

Spicy things can also be good for unclogging arteries. Cayenne pepper contains a compound capsaicin which helps reduce LDL cholesterol and it can also improve blood circulation and lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. In a study which was published in 2009, capsaicin was found to be able to prevent pulmonary and vascular complications arising from use of HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy) drugs, believed to accelerate atherosclerosis and pulmonary artery hypertension.Go to next page for the rest of the article..

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