A small amount of thickening and loss of elasticity in the arteries is a natural part of aging, but if we regularly eat fatty foods and fail to exercise, the arteries start narrowing dangerously. They get clogged with deposits that look like porridge. In fact, the term for clogged arteries, “atherosclerosis,” is made up of two words: athero which in Greek means porridge, and sclerosis, which means hardening.
And here’s a scary fact: arteries can get up to 85% clogged before you notice the first signs of heart disease.
With some simple precautions and diet changes, it is possible to keep arteries clean and healthy. Your aim should be to lower LDL, the bad cholesterol that clogs arteries. This can be done by focusing on a healthier diet. Here are some sound suggestions health experts make:
- Choose low-fat cheese, but be careful–some low-fat varieties have too much sodium. Harvard School of Public Health advises that you choose the cheese you like and enjoy small amounts of it.
- Switch to lower-fat milk, especially if your milk consumption is high.
- Eat more apples and oatmeal: the soluble fiber in them lowers bad cholesterol.
- Enjoy baked potato instead of fries or wedges.
- Use low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream.
- Reduce or totally stop your consumption of packaged cookies, crackers, and chips—they contain harmful trans fats that are bad news for your arteries.
- Cook with olive oil or vegetable oil instead of butter and margarine.
- Add more beans and vegetables to casseroles and chili; reduce the amount of meat.
- Include avocado in your diet. It has monounsaturated fat and many important nutrients that benefit the heart.
- Low-fat frozen yogurt is a better choice than full-fat ice cream. Better still, eat fresh fruit.