Atherosclerosis is a word you probably hear a lot more than you care to.
It refers to the hardening of your arteries due to a buildup of plaque, which is essentially a combination of “cholesterol, fatty substances, cellular waste products, calcium and fibrin (a clotting material in the blood).” (1).
When this happens, you are at risk for having a heart attack or stroke.
According to the American Heart Association’s 2016 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics Update, in 2013, 1 of every 3 deaths in the US was a result of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases. Plus, heart disease and stroke were listed as the number one (and two) killers worldwide, according to the report (2).
While your doctor will probably recommend living a healthy lifestyle that includes eating according to the national dietary recommendations and getting exercise, if you show any signs of atherosclerosis you will likely be given a prescription for a statin (cholesterol lowering medication) or a fibrate to lower your triglyceride levels, along with a slew of other medications (3).
Ultimately, while your doctor will tell you these drugs can help control or treat atherosclerosis, many studies also show they are inherently dangerous and can even worsen the situation or lead to other diseases, including cancer (4).
The good news is that like most diseases, atherosclerosis is preventable and even reversible in some cases. The best part is that you can take charge of your health starting today.
And to help you get started, here are 7 natural ways you can not only prevent arterial plaque buildup but possibly even reverse clogged arteries.
Reverse Clogged Arteries Naturally
Garlic is linked to treating or preventing at least 220 different health conditions or symptoms. But when it comes cardiovascular disease, the primary cause of death among people in industrialized countries, garlic is a true superstar (5).
In fact, this pungent food’s healing effects can even reduce the risk of infarction and stroke by more than 50 percent according to a study published in the German publication, Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift (6).
While not everyone is a fan of the pomegranate’s slightly acidic, yet wonderfully sweet taste, this fruit is masterful at removing plaque buildup according to many studies. Rich in polyphenols including tannins and anthocyanins, drinking pomegranate juice is even shown in one study to reduce arterial plaque by as much as 30 percent.
It also lowers blood pressure and increases total antioxidant status (TAS) by 130 percent (7). Another study published in the American Journal of Cardiology shows it can slow the oxidation that causes plaque buildup (8).
3. Fermented Cabbage
There is no doubt fermented foods are good for you. They contain numerous probiotics that promote a healthy gut; something researchers agree goes a long way to overall health.
When it comes to heart health and atherosclerosis, kimchi, a traditional Korean dish made with fermented cabbage, is the perfect food to help show arterial plaque buildup.
A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that kimchi is actually better than Simvastatin, a popular statin also marketed as Zocor, for preventing plaque buildup and lowering LDL cholesterol (9). Kimchi’s high probiotic count also help to destroy any harmful toxins and chemicals in your gut. These truly amazing friendly bacteria are shown in countless studies to prevent and treat the symptoms of over 200 different diseases (10).
4. Sesame Seeds
The tiny seed has a distinctive taste and is chockfull of vitamins and minerals, including copper and manganese, as well as a healthy dose of iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B1, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, and even fiber.
The heart healthy properties of sesame come from two amazing substances called sesamin and sesamolin (11). Known as lignans, they also have some potent cholesterol-lowering properties that can further help to prevent high blood pressure and even increase vitamin E supplies.
A 2006 study published in The Yale Journal of Biological Medicine reveals that ingesting sesame seeds oil every day for 45 days can naturally lower your blood pressure (12). Another study further found sesame oil can prevent atherosclerosis (13). Other studies show sesamin can also protect your liver from oxidative damage (14).
Remarkably, studies even show this little seed is more effective than Tylenol for knee pain caused by arthritis (15). Not bad for a little seed!
When it comes to spices for heart health, there is none better than turmeric. The active ingredient in this bright yellow spice, commonly used in Indian dishes, is curcumin, an incredibly potent polyphenol. Green Med Info reveals a whopping 782 diseases researched using curcumin with 2195 abstracts (16).
If there was ever a cure-all ingredient, turmeric would be it. When it comes to heart health, there are over 45 studies that clearly show how powerful this cardio-protective spice is (17) A study published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology even shows how turmeric can prevent the damage to arteries normally associated with blockages (18).
And forget Aspirin for heart disease prevention according to a 2016 study, a daily dose of curcumin can significantly improve the functional state of your blood vessels within just two months (19). Researchers conclude, “Oral curcumin supplementation may present a simple lifestyle strategy for decreasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.”
6. B Vitamins
The B vitamins include (20):
- B1 (thiamine)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B5 (pantothenic acid)
- B7 (biotin)
- Folic acid
Typically, you can get all of these in one B-complex vitamin, although these aren’t your best bet for long-term health. Studies clearly show how important this group of vitamins is for heart health. Recently, researchers found that a naturally occurring amino acid called homocysteine is key in heart disease.
In fact, just small elevations of this amino acid in your blood can build up and cause arterial inflammation and damage that makes you more susceptible to heart disease according to studies (21).
Luckily, scientists also found that three of the B vitamins, folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, are powerful combatants for heart disease. A 2005 study published in Atherosclerosis shows that 2.5 mg folic acid, 25 mg Vitamin B6 and 0.5mg Vitamin B12, when taken for one year, can successfully lower homocysteine levels and reduce the thickness of the arteries (22).
A 2006 study published in Current Medical Research and Opinion shows that niacin is also important for heart health. This B vitamin can raise levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), reduce the thickness of arterial walls and improve endothelial function while decreasing vascular inflammation (23). Folic acid is also helpful according to studies for reducing arterial wall thickness (24).
Finally, the last natural powerhouse for reversing clogged arteries is the amino acid, L-Arginine, which is actually capable of preventing arterial thickening by as much as 24 percent according to studies (25, 26).
Among other important health benefits, this potent amino acid is also known to fight inflammation, a huge factor in heart disease, lower your risk for arteriosclerosis and heart attack, repair blood vessels, fight congestive heart failure (CHF) and coronary artery disease and even help to lower high blood pressure (27). According to Green Med Info, L-Arginine is actually helpful for158 different diseases and is definitely something you should add to your list for natural ways to reverse clogged arteries (28).
This is just a small number of nature’s amazing substances for helping to reduce your risk of heart disease. There are actually close to 300 natural substances known for heart health (29). Drugs are not always the answer.
A healthy diet and plenty of exercise, along with nature’s medicines can go a long way to keeping you and your heart healthy for years to come.