Did you know cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the top 10 causes of death in the UK?
Clogged arteries are one of the main risk factors of developing Cardiovascular disease.
So how do arteries become clogged?
Your arteries are large elasticated blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood and nutrients away from your heart around to every part of your body – from your brain, fingertips to your toes.
Arteries become clogged when cholesterol, fat, cellular waste products and calcium combine to form a plaque on the inner lining of the artery walls.
This plaque builds up over time causing narrowing and sometimes blockage.
The hardening of the artery walls is a process called atherosclerosis. Plaque build up may lead to a number of medical conditions such as: high blood pressure, peripheral artery disease (PAD) of the legs, angina (heart pain), a heart attack or a stroke.
An unhealthy diet, inactivity and smoking increases your risk of developing CVD. You can’t see the damage inside your body until it presents itself as disease.
Don’t be a ticking time bomb!
Now is the time for you to action and cleanse your arteries!
‘Good fats’ to cleanse your arteries
Fats aren’t all bad! Although they are high in calories and should be consumed in small amounts, they provide us with energy and fuel.
They also help to transport important fat soluble vitamins around our body including: Vitamin A, D, E and K.
Some dietary cholesterol is also needed to maintain our cell function.
The types of fats we eat is what matters
Put simply, mono-unsaturated fats (found in olive oil) and poly-unsaturated fats (found in nuts) are ‘good’ types of fats, they help to increase the good type of cholesterol in our body called HDL (high-density lipoprotein).
HDL helps to remove the build up of the bad cholesterol LDL (low-density lipoprotein) that clogs up our arteries.
Foods containing saturated fats (found in animal products) should be limited, we do need some saturated fat in our diet, however too much will increase the ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL).
So swap saturated fats for unsaturated fats where you can. Trans-Fats (found in takeaways) have no nutritional value and should be avoided where possible.
Foods containing good fats include:
Oliy fish such as salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids . Fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation, may increase HDL and also reduces triglyceride levels. It is recommended to consume at least 1-2 portions of oily fish a week to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Olive oil is rich in mono-unsaturated fats. These fats can help to increase HDL that mop up fatty deposits from the artery walls. A recent Spanish studied concluded that a diet rich in mono-unsaturated fats such as olive oil could improve arterial function in an elderly population.
This versatile fruit is packed full of good fats. Guacamole, made out of avocados can be used a healthy dip alternative or as a flavoursome Mexican side dish.
Olives are also a good source of mono-unsaturated fats. They can be added to most popular Italian dishes such as pizza, pasta or even to a side salad!
Fancy a Cuppa? Green Tea
Did you know green tea may help to keep you arteries healthy? Green tea is rich in a compound call Catechins which has shown to be affective in reducing the absorption of cholesterol in the body!
Can plant based foods prevent clogged arteries?
Plant based foods are high in fibre which can naturally help to lower cholesterol.
There are two types of fibre: Insoluble and soluble fibre.
Both types of fibre are important and beneficial to health as they can: improve gut health, regulate blood sugar levels, reduce blood pressure and keep you feeling fuller for longer and aid in weight control.
Fibre can also prevent certain cancers and heart disease. However, evidence has shown that soluble fibre is the most affective at reducing cholesterol that can clog up arteries.
Foods containing soluble fibre:
Flaxseed contain both soluble and insoluble fibre. They are also a source Omega-3 essential fatty acids. They also contain Lignans, which contain phytoestrogens which help to regulate the bodies oestrogen levels.
Oats contain a type of fibre called beta-glucan. This type of soluble fibre dissolves in the gut and forms a type of gel which prevents the absorption of cholesterol.
Vegetables such as Okra, aubergine, turnip and sweet potatoes are all good sources of soluble fibre.
Chia seeds are a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals! They a re packed full of antioxidants and can help to reduce blood pressure.
Citrus fruits and mangos are all good source of soluble fibre. In general, the skin on fruits is made up of insoluble fibre.
Soluble fibre can be found in other foods such as: cereals, seeds, soya, beans, pulses and barley.
The best of both worlds
Nuts contain contain both soluble fibre and good cholesterol lowering, mono-unsaturated fats! Some sources include:
Macademia nuts, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, hazelnuts and pecan, Chia seeds, peanut butter and almond butter are also a good source of soluble fibre and good fats!
Plant Stanols and Sterols – can they lower cholesterol?
Lab experiments have shown that plant Stanols and Sterols are effective in lowering cholesterol levels.
However, it is no longer recommended as cholesterol lowering advice!
New evidence has shown that common foods fortified with plant Stanols and Sterols (such as spreads and yoghurt drinks) only have an affect on cholesterol when consumed in large quantities.
This means potentially consuming more than your recommended intake of fat! Not so good If you are trying to lose weight!
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