Arteriosclerosis, or clogged arteries, is the formation on the inside of blood vessels of fatty plaques that eventually thicken the vessel walls and restrict or stop the blood flow causing angina (chest pain) and possibly heart attacks. Diet can play an important role in preventing or controlling this serious condition, and medical experts at the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute have developed the TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) regime, which includes eating certain foods, to help people prevent and control the fatty build-up.
Whole Grain and High-Fiber Foods
According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, foods high in soluble fiber seem to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol into the digestive tract. It is this cholesterol that ends up lining the inside of our arteries. Whole grain cereals like oatmeal or oat bran are recommended on the TLC program. Fruits like apples, bananas, pears and prunes should also be included in a heart-healthy diet, and legumes such as kidney beans, lentils, chick-peas, black-eyed peas and lima beans are excellent sources of fiber as well.
Essential Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in salmon, tuna (canned or fresh), sardines and mackerel. These cold-water fish can help protect your heart against blood clots and arterial inflammation and reduce the risk of heart attack. According to an article published in the "Journal of the American College of Cardiology," studies conducted on Japanese, Japanese-American and American men showed that while the Japanese men had similar cardiovascular risk levels, their blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids were much higher and their heart incident indicators were much lower. According to an "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" study, everyone should aim to have two servings of fish a week to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.
Studies on mice, conducted by the Wake Forest University School of Medicine and General Mills' Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition "indicate that a diet rich in green and yellow vegetables inhibits the development of atherosclerosis and may therefore lead to a reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease." The study shows that control groups fed freeze-dried peas, green beans, broccoli, corn and carrots reduced their cholesterol count by 38 percent.
These vegetables are among the top 10 eaten at American tables, yet apparently people are not eating enough. It is important to eat at least 5 servings a day of green or yellow vegetables. An added benefit to eating a diet of 30 percent vegetables, like the mice in the study, is that after 16 weeks, they also showed a modest improvement in weight and cholesterol levels in the blood.