Eat These 10 Foods to Cleanse Your Arteries

The No. 1 killer on the planet is heart disease, which accounts for one in four deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What makes heart disease so deadly is the progressive buildup of plaque in the arteries, which narrows the inner walls, restricting and ultimately blocking the flow of blood.

Arteries are the blood vessels that deliver oxygen-rich blood from the heart to different tissues in the body. When plaque builds up and blood flow becomes inhibited, these clogged or blocked arteries can lead to more serious problems such as heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. So what can you do to keep your arteries healthy and free of blockage? Food can be used as a natural remedy to regress blockage and prevent further damage to your arteries. Here are 10 of the best foods you can eat to free your arteries of build-up.

1. Asparagus

Asparagus is one of the best foods to cleanse your arteries. Full of fiber and minerals, it helps lower blood pressure and prevent blood clots that can lead to serious cardiovascular illness. It works within the veins and arteries to alleviate inflammation that may have accumulated over time. It boosts the body’s production of glutathione, an antioxidant that fights inflammation and prevents damaging oxidation that causes clogged or blocked arteries. It also contains alpha-linoleic acid and folic acid, which prevent hardening of the arteries.

There are many great recipes for asparagus. Steam it, roast it, grill it and even eat it raw in salads.

2. Avocado

Avocado helps reduce the “bad” cholesterol and increase the “good cholesterol” that helps to clear the arteries. It also contains vitamin E, which prevents cholesterol oxidation, as well as potassium, which is known to lower blood pressure. Avocados are a delicious replacement for mayo on a sandwich, or as a salad topping, and of course, in guacamole.

3. Broccoli

Broccoli can prevent artery clogging because it is loaded with vitamin K, which prevents calcium from damaging the arteries. Broccoli also prevents cholesterol oxidation and is full of fiber, which lowers blood pressure and reduces stress. Stress can lead to tearing and plaque build-up of arterial walls. These little trees also contain sulforaphane, which helps the body use protein to prevent plaque build-up in the arteries.

It is recommended to have two to three servings of broccoli per week for the maximum benefits. Broccoli is another versatile vegetable—it tastes great grilled, roasted or steamed and is a great side dish.

4. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish—mackerel, salmon, sardines, herring and tuna—are rich in healthy fats, which can help to clear the arteries. Omega-3 fatty acids help to increase the “good” cholesterol while reducing triglyceride levels, decreasing blood vessel inflammation and the formation of blood clots in the arteries, and can even lower blood pressure.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends people eat fish at least twice per week to reduce plaque build-up. Baked and grilled fish are the most optimal for heart health.

5. Nuts

Instead of reaching for the cookie jar, try a healthier alternative—nuts. Almonds are the best choice because they are high in monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, fiber and protein. The magnesium in almonds also prevents plaque formation and lowers blood pressure. Walnuts are another good source of omega-3 fatty acid, which will reduce “bad” cholesterol and raise “good” cholesterol levels, which in turn lowers the risk of plaque build-up in the arteries.

The AHA recommends three to five servings per week (one serving is equivalent to a handful). Nuts also make a great salad topper.

6. Olive Oil

Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated oleic acid, an essential fatty acid that lowers “bad” cholesterol and raises “good” cholesterol. Rich in antioxidants, it is one of the healthiest oils to use in cooking or for dressings.

Use olive oil instead of butter and drizzle over salad or pasta. It is recommended to choose 100 percent organic virgin olive oil for maximum health benefits.

7. Watermelon

This summertime favorite is a great natural source of the amino acid L-citrulline, which boosts nitric oxide production in the body. Nitric oxide causes the arteries to relax, decreases inflammation and can help lower blood pressure. Watermelon also helps to modify blood lipids and lowers belly fat accumulation. Less fat in the abdominal area lowers the risk of heart disease.

8. Turmeric

The main component of this spice is curcumin, which is a power anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is a major cause of arteriosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries. Turmeric also reduces the damage to arterial walls, which can cause blood clots and plaque build up. Turmeric also contains vitamin B6, which helps to maintain healthy levels of homocysteine, which can cause plaque buildup and blood vessel damage in excess amounts.

Turmeric can be an ingredient in many dishes, both sweet and savory. One way to get your daily dose is by drinking a glass of warm turmeric milk daily. If you’ve never cooked with it before, now’s the time to get creative for your health!

9. Spinach

This dark, leafy green is filled with potassium, folate and fiber, which helps lower blood pressure and prevents artery blockage. One serving per day helps lower homocysteine levels, a risk factor for heart diseases such as atherosclerosis.

It doesn’t matter if you eat it raw or cooked, the benefits are the same. So try it in salads, smoothies and even on your omelet.

10. Whole Grains

Whole grains contain soluble fiber, which binds to the excess LDL cholesterol in your digestive tract and removes it from your body. Whole grains also contain magnesium, which dilates blood vessels and keeps your blood pressure at regular levels.

The AHA recommends at least six daily servings of whole grains, so trade your carbs for whole-grain alternatives like whole-grain breads, whole wheat pastas, brown rice, quinoa, barley and oatmeal to improve cholesterol levels and keep your arteries clear.

Making these changes to your diet can improve your overall health, and prevent your arteries from blockage. Luckily, these options are delicious and provide endless opportunities for new recipes and creativity. Not sure if you’re at risk for or already have artery blockage? This February, take control of your heart health and schedule an appointment with one of our cardiologists at the Snyder White Heart and Vascular Center today by calling 419-660-6946.

Can we reduce vascular plaque buildup?

The key is lowering LDL and making lifestyle changes.

Updated: May 3, 2019Published: June, 2014

High blood levels of cholesterol encourage the formation and growth of vascular plaques that put you at risk for heart attack and stroke. So can we reduce plaque buildup? “Making plaque disappear is not possible, but we can shrink and stabilize it,” says cardiologist Dr. Christopher Cannon, a Harvard Medical School professor.

Plaque forms when cholesterol (above, in yellow) lodges in the wall of the artery.

Image: Thinkstock

All about plaque

Plaque forms when cholesterol lodges in the wall of the artery. To fight back, the body sends white blood cells to trap the cholesterol, which then turn into foamy cells that ooze more fat and cause more inflammation. That triggers muscle cells in the artery wall to multiply and form a cap over the area. But the soft plaque beneath the cap is dangerous. “For example, if your blood pressure spikes, it puts pressure on the thin wall of the plaque, which can break open, form a clot, and cause a heart attack,” says Dr. Cannon. About three of every four heart attacks occur when plaques rupture.

Larger plaques can block blood flow. But they are typically covered by thick, fibrous caps that can resist breaking apart. These are often treated by inserting a wire mesh tube (stent) near the blockage to widen the artery.

Treatment

Doctors target smaller, unstable plaque. “If we have a 30% blockage in the artery from soft plaque, the goal is to try to suck out the cholesterol from the inside so the plaque shrivels down to 15% and leaves nothing inside it,” says Dr. Cannon.

How do you get the cholesterol out of the plaque? By lowering levels of cholesterol in the blood, where it travels inside particles called lipoproteins. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) deposits cholesterol into blood vessel walls. The drugs used most often to reduce LDL cholesterol levels are statins—such as atorvastatin (Lipitor) and rosuvastatin (Crestor). Statins block the liver enzyme that promotes cholesterol production. Another medication called ezetimibe (Zetia) may be added to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the digestive tract. “Shrinking plaques with strong statins has been seen when you get LDL below 70 (mg/dL),” says Dr. Cannon. Harvard Health Letter

Very intensive lifestyle changes have also been shown to shrink plaque. Dr. Cannon recommends that you:

  • Eat a Mediterranean diet. It can reduce heart disease risk by 30%. It is rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish; low in red or processed meats; and moderate in the amounts of cheese and wine you can consume.
  • Kick the habit. Smoking damages the lining of the arteries. Quitting can help raise HDL levels.
  • Exercise. Aerobic exercise can raise HDL, lower blood pressure, burn body fat, and lower blood sugar levels. Exercise combined with weight loss can also lower LDL levels. Aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise. 

Busting the cholesterol myth

Why you can’t live without this tricky substance.

Cholesterol is often vilified as the bad guy, but we need this waxy, fatty substance to make vitamin D, hormones, bile that aids digestion, and the coverings of our cells. The liver produces 75% of the body’s cholesterol, but all cells have the ability to make it.

When cells need more cholesterol, the liver sends it via the bloodstream in packages made of cholesterol on the inside and protein on the outside. These cholesterol-laden particles are known as low-density lipoprotein, or LDL. Too much LDL in the blood can cause cholesterol to lodge in the artery walls and form plaques. That’s why LDL is known as “bad” cholesterol.

Not surprisingly, high levels of cholesterol in the diet raise blood levels of LDL. But high levels of saturated fat and trans fat in the diet are even more important: they cause the liver to produce lots of LDL cholesterol and send it into the blood.

Whereas LDL particles deposit cholesterol into plaques of atherosclerosis, some high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles help remove cholesterol from plaques. That’s why it’s often referred to as “good” cholesterol. How much HDL and LDL should you aim for? An HDL of 60 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or greater is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Many doctors prescribe statins and lifestyle changes to get LDL levels below 70 mg/dL in people at high risk of having a heart attack in the next 10 years. Recent guidelines recommend that statins be prescribed regardless of the LDL level in people at high risk of heart attack because of cardiac risk factors (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking).

Disclaimer:
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Is it possible to unclog your arteries?

Eating a heart-healthful diet and regularly exercising can be powerful tools for preventing clogged arteries. These disciplines also make a person feel better as time goes on.

People can prevent clogged arteries with the following lifestyle changes:

Avoiding trans fats

The type of fat a person eats can affect plaque in the arteries. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommend that a person limits their intake of saturated fats and trans fats. This is because these kinds of fats contain high levels of LDL cholesterol, which is the main material of plaque in the arteries.

Foods that are high in trans fats include:

  • fried foods
  • processed packaged foods
  • cakes, pies, and pastries
  • cookies and biscuits
  • margarine or butter substitutes
  • vegetable shortening
  • products with partially hydrogenated oils, otherwise known as trans fats

Along with trans fats, saturated fats may also affect heart health, though the evidence for this is mixed. Saturated fats are mostly found in animal products, such as beef, pork, and dairy, but also in coconut oil and palm oil.

One review of scientific studies found there was a small but possibly important reduction in the risk of cardiovascular issues when people cut down on saturated fats and replaced them with unsaturated fats.

Another review study suggests that people should avoid saturated fats because they increase LDL cholesterol in the body, which is a direct cause of heart issues.

Eating more unsaturated fats

Share on PinterestAvocados, walnuts, and fatty fish all contain unsaturated fats.

Unsaturated fats are the good fats. They contain HDL cholesterol, which can help to take bad cholesterol from the arteries before it turns into plaque.

According to the AHA, unsaturated fats may help improve blood cholesterol when eaten instead of trans or saturated fats.

Unsaturated fats are mainly found in plants and fatty fish. Sources include:

  • avocado
  • olives
  • walnuts
  • some vegetable oils including sunflower and olive
  • fatty fish, including trout, herring, and salmon

Following other dietary tips

The AHA recommend that people aiming to lower their LDL cholesterol eat a diet rich in:

  • whole fruits and vegetables
  • nuts
  • whole grains
  • low-fat dairy
  • fish
  • poultry

They also recommend limiting sugary foods, red meat, and sugar-sweetened beverages.

Drinking herbal teas

Drinking teas, such as green or black tea, rooibos tea, or ginger tea may be good heart-healthy substitutes for other beverages.

A study from 2011 found that drinking 6 cups of rooibos tea per day for 6 weeks helped to lower the amount of LDL cholesterol in the blood in adults who were at risk for heart diseases.

Green tea can also help. A 2011 review reported that green tea and its extracts could lower LDL cholesterol in the blood, though this did not affect HDL cholesterol.

Ginger supplementation may also improve significant markers that can lead to cardiovascular events, according to a 2016 study. Ginger root can be found as a supplement, but people can also brew it in hot water, and drink it as a tea.

A range of herbal teas is available for purchase online.

Exercising regularly

Obesity is a risk factor for plaque buildup and heart disease. In addition to eating a healthful diet, regularly exercising may help a person to lose weight and reduce their risk of heart problems.

Taking part in cardiovascular exercise, otherwise known as cardio, on a regular basis may also help strengthen the heart and reduce plaque.

Simple cardio activities that raise the heart rate include:

  • jogging
  • cycling
  • running
  • brisk walking
  • swimming
  • playing tennis
  • doing aerobics

A person should aim to do 30 to 60 minutes of exercise that raises the heart rate for a good workout. A doctor may recommend a specific exercise routine to fit an individual, based on various lifestyle factor.

Other ways to prevent clogged arteries

Stop smoking. According to the AHA, smoking is a major risk factor. It directly damages the arteries and can make fatty deposits grow faster and become larger.

Stress reduction. Psychological stress levels may also cause a reaction in the body. Stress-reduction techniques, including yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises may help some people relax during a hectic day.

Medical treatments

When prevention methods are not effective, a person may need medical intervention to try and alleviate the effects of clogged arteries.

A doctor may recommend medications to lower LDL cholesterol to use alongside dietary changes. These actions should be seen as an additional help rather than as solutions.

Similarly, a blocked artery may require surgical treatment. This could involve inserting a tube into the artery to remove the plaque while leaving behind a stent to support the artery walls and increase blood flow.

With severe blockages, doctors may perform surgery called a heart bypass to make sure the blood can get around the obstructed artery.

Below is a 3-D model of atherosclerosis, which is fully interactive. You can explore this model using your mouse pad or touchscreen.

Is It Possible to Unclog Your Arteries?

Heart health tips

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet.
  • Make exercise a part of your regular routine. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week.
  • Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, talk to your doctor about smoking cessation programs to help you quit.
  • Limit your alcohol consumption to no more than one drink a day.

Direct your efforts toward decreasing your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels and increasing your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. Your LDL level is a measure of the “bad” cholesterol that’s in your blood.

When you have a lot of LDL, the excess cholesterol floats through your body and may stick to your arterial walls. HDL, the “good” cholesterol, helps whisk away the LDL cells and stops plaques from forming.

Here are some additional tips that may help you prevent plaque buildup.

Read more: 28 healthy heart tips “

Eat a heart-healthy diet

Diet can play a big role in improving your heart health and reducing your risk for a buildup of plaque. It’s never too late to eat a healthier diet. Just as years of bad eating can damage your body, good eating can help heal it. A heart-healthy diet contains plenty of good fats and low amounts of bad fats.

  • Add more good fats to your diet. Good fats are also called unsaturated fats. They’re found in foods like olives, nuts, avocado, and fish.
  • Cut sources of saturated fat, such as fatty meat and dairy. Choose lean cuts of meat, and try eating more plant-based meals.
  • Eliminate artificial sources of trans fats. Most artificial trans fats are found in processed, packaged foods like cookies and snack cakes.
  • Increase your fiber intake. Soluble fiber helps lower your LDL. You can find soluble fiber in foods like vegetables, lentils, beans, and oats.
  • Cut back on sugar. Vitamins and minerals accompany the sugar found naturally in fruit. The sugar found in processed foods like cookies, ice cream, and sugar-sweetened beverages doesn’t have nutritional value. Too much added sugar can negatively impact your health.

Move more

Exercise can improve your cardiovascular health and help prevent cardiac issues. If you’re not physically active, start slowly. Go for a walk once or twice a week. When that fits into your schedule, go for more walks.

Slowly build up your routine and your stamina. Aim to get 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise at least five days per week.

It’s important to always talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

Shed pounds

When you eat better and move more, the natural result might be that you lose weight. Carrying extra weight increases your LDL cholesterol. That increases your risk for plaque buildup.

Losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can have a huge impact on your health, including your cholesterol.

Stop smoking and drinking

The day you quit smoking, your health will start to rebound. Quitting smoking may help raise your HDL levels, too. Talk to your doctor if you need help quitting smoking. They can recommend smoking cessation programs and resources.

Too much alcohol can also affect your heart. But some studies have shown that moderate use of alcohol may increase your HDL levels. It’s not a good idea for anyone to begin drinking for this reason, though. These studies are not definitive enough for doctors to encourage anyone to drink for heart health.

Read more: Can drinking alcohol affect your heart health? “

Medication

If lifestyle changes aren’t enough, your doctor may prescribe medication to help lower your LDL and prevent plaques. Be sure to take your cholesterol medication as prescribed. Many medications may also work better when you make healthy lifestyle changes. So, it’s never a bad idea to incorporate healthy changes, even if you’re taking medicine.

© Provided by ZA Celebrityworx Pty Ltd adult-blood-business-220723 When it comes to the optimum functioning of the human body, good circulation is crucial.

The circulatory system is the system in the human body responsible for the transportation of blood, oxygen, nutrients, waste products and toxins. It is also in charge of regulating both body temperature and pH levels. As it is so vital for overall health, proper circulation is important.

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Poor circulation mainly occurs because of high blood pressure, smoking and living a sedentary lifestyle. Furthermore, a weak circulatory system can cause brittle hair and nails, chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, diabetes, muscle cramps, obesity and even digestive health problems.

Circulation and diet

One aspect of your life that can affect circulation is your diet.

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Incorporating the below-mentioned foods into your diet will not only improve blood flow but it will also help to protect heart-health.

Beetroot

This dark red vegetable is perfect for boosting circulation – so much so that athletes regularly consume it as juice.

Beetroots are rich in nitrates and these compounds help to increase both blood flow and oxygen. When athletes drink beet juice, the nitrate boosts blood flow and oxygen to the muscle tissues and this can then boost their overall performance.

As high blood pressure can affect the effectiveness of the circulatory system, one study published in the Journal of American Heart Association revealed that beet juice can help to lower high blood pressure.

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Cayenne pepper

If you’re a fan of spicy foods, your circulatory system may be in great shape.

Capsaicin is the compound found in cayenne pepper responsible for its spicy taste. It is also responsible for encouraging vasodilatation – the relaxation of blood vessels, which then increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure (1). This is why capsaicin is often listed as an ingredient in pain-reliever creams.

If you’re not a fan of the spicy life, try adding a pinch of cayenne pepper to your morning eggs.

Citrus fruits

Oranges, lemons and grapefruits are all rich in vitamin C thus they’re circulatory superfoods.

Aside from protecting the body against free radicals, vitamin C strengthens capillary walls and prevents plaque buildup – which then helps to prevent poor circulation.

Chocolate lovers can feel less guilty about their sweet tooth.

Dark chocolates with a cocoa content of 70% and up are ideal for improving blood circulation. Cocoa is extremely high in natural flavonoids and a study published in the Circulation Journal revealed how these flavonoids can boost blood circulation.

Omega-3 foods

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When it comes to a heart-healthy diet, omega 3 fatty acids are front and centre.

Found in avocados, salmon and nuts, omega 3 fatty acids help improve blood circulation by lowering blood pressure and helping to prevent both blood clotting and plaque buildup. In fact, studies have revealed that a deficiency in omega 3 fatty acids can cause poor circulation (2).

Turmeric

A bright yellow powder, turmeric contains the chemical curcumin which not only gives it its bright colour but, as studies have shown, helps to improve blood circulation (3).

Aside from reevaluating your diet, there are many other lifestyle changes you can make to improve your circulation. This includes quitting smoking, leading a more active lifestyle, staying hydrated, maintaining a healthy weight and practising good stress management techniques.

Want To Know More?

Adopting a martial art is a great way to keep active and alleviate stress. Click here to find out more about the low-impact martial art that is tai chi.

Related: What your body is trying to tell you (Provided by The Daily Meal)

Vasodilators are medications used to open up blood vessels and prevent heart-related health conditions, but there are also natural vasodilators that can dilate vessels and increase blood flow.

Vasodilators impact the muscle walls of the arteries and veins. They prevent the muscles from tightening and the wall from narrowing, which then allow blood to flow more freely through vessels. When blood is flowing easily, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard and blood pressure is reduced.

The production of NO—nitric oxide—is important for the regulation of blood flow. Abnormal NO production occurs in different disease situations. It can have a negative impact on blood flow and vascular functions. Nitric oxide is produced from the amino acid L-arginine by action from nitric oxide synthase (NOS). Vascular actions of NO can include preventing sympathetic vasoconstriction, acting as an anti-inflammatory, having an anti-thrombotic effect, and preventing muscle hyperplasia. On the other hand, when NO production is hampered, it can lead to hypertension, thrombosis, vascular hypertrophy and stenosis, or excess inflammation.

Nitric oxide is a strong vasodilator; something you can get from flavonoid and L-arginine rich foods. There are many natural vasodilator foods to choose from. Read on for a comprehensive list of some of the best natural vasodilator food options.

Natural vasodilators to increase blood flow

Nitric oxide can reduce blood pressure as well as prevent artery blockage and stroke. Boosting nitric oxide levels with food is sometimes a preferred option. No matter what your taste buds are like, you are bound to find something on the following list of natural vasodilators that you can enjoy.

Dark chocolate

Raw cacao bean increases nitric oxide and is also full of antioxidants. It can lower blood pressure and impact markers of inflammation. Keep in mind that it is loaded with sugar, so it should be consumed occasionally. Remember that we are referring to dark chocolate only.

Related: How to lower blood pressure quickly and naturally

Citrus

Research suggests that vitamin C protects nitric oxide molecules from free radical damage, making it a good natural vasodilator. Foods like oranges, lemons, and grapefruit contain large amounts of vitamin C. This vitamin is known to raise levels of nitric oxide synthase, which again is the enzyme that converts L-arginine into nitric oxide.

Pomegranate

This fruit is capable of boosting nitric oxide, reducing inflammation, and reducing oxidative stress, which are all factors related to coronary artery disease. Polyphenols in pomegranate help convert nitrite into nitric oxide, making it a viable natural vasodilator.

Walnuts

This nut is high in L-arginine, so it can keep blood vessels open. Many other nuts are also good sources of L-arginine. Nutritionists suggest soaking nuts for five to six hours before consuming them. If you don’t like walnuts, you can consider almonds, cashews, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, or macadamia nuts.

Arugula

This type of lettuce has the highest source of nitrates. It can be a little bitter, so many people mix it in with other types of lettuce or sauté it with other vegetables. Arugula is also called garden rocket or salad rocket. It is often referred to in England as a “fancy pants” (more sophisticated) kind of leaf lettuce.

Spinach

In its fresh form (not canned), this leafy vegetable is packed with nitrates. This versatile veggie can be added to soups, stews, pasta dishes, or even pizza.

Beets

A number of studies call beetroot an excellent vasodilator, especially when it comes to lowering blood pressure. Beets are also a source of anti-oxidants and betalains, which are good anti-inflammatories.

Garlic

While this does not contain a lot of nitrates, it does boost the enzyme nitric oxide synthase. Research indicates that garlic supplements can lower blood pressure and have many other health benefits. Garlic is a very popular vegetable among many different cultures and can be used in countless dishes.

Parsley

This popular herb, which is also found in many different supplements, is a natural vasodilator. The great thing about parsley is that it also contains other properties that promote good health. Since parsley does not have a strong flavor, it is used often in restaurants.

Ginger

The ginger root is known as a vasodilator. It can open up blood vessels to allow blood to pass through. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. The root of the ginger can be consumed fresh, powdered, dry as a spice, in oil form, or as a juice. There are many other health benefits linked to ginger root besides the fact that it can act like a vasodilator.

Cayenne

This spice has a warming impact, which can help dilate blood vessels. Using excessive amounts of cayenne is not recommended, but including a little in meals can be helpful.

Rosemary

Fresh rosemary can increase blood flow and is a great food additive. Poultry and lamb are good examples of foods that many people sprinkle with rosemary.

Arginine

This amino acid can be found in protein-rich foods, such as chicken, turkey, and dairy products. Arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide, so it is one of the best natural vasodilator options.

Hawthorne

This has been used for centuries to address blood circulation problems and heart issues. It can interact with other heart medications, so it is important to use Hawthorne under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.

Coffee

Research has shown that coffee can boost vasodilation and blood flow. One study conducted in 2015 showed that men are less likely to experience erectile dysfunction due to poor blood flow when they drink two or more cups of coffee each day.

When it comes to the best natural vasodilator options, it is nice to see that there are a wide variety of foods to choose from. While this should bring some reassurance, especially to those who are not keen on vasodilator medications, any use of foods to control vascular health should be discussed with a doctor. Taking treatment into your own hands can be dangerous. When planned in consultation with a healthcare professional though, foods can make a big difference when it comes to vasodilation.

Related:

19 foods that increase blood flow

Essential oils for circulation: 10 best oils to improve blood circulation

12 Best Foods for Your Brain Health

Taking care of your brain may be as simple as eating the right foods, and consuming proper amounts of vitamins and other nutrients to support your heart, brain and muscles, too. Consistent exercise and other regular healthy habits (sound sleep) will help bolster your brain, too.

Here are our top 12 foods that are very beneficial for brain (and heart) health. They’re also delicious!

Fruits and Vegetables, Best Foods for Brain Health

  • Spinach and leafy greens. These nutrient-dense vegetables are rich in magnesium, which helps dilate blood vessels, and boost blood flow to the brain.
  • Asparagus. An incredible source of folate, asparagus is energy for your brain! Studies show that people with lower levels of folate tend to be more likely to experience depression.
  • Oranges. Your body can’t naturally make vitamin C, but it’s an essential nutrient for eyesight and healthy brain cells, so eat up. Oranges are also rich in flavonoids, shown to improve memory and cognition.
  • Blueberries. Cancer-fighting antioxidants in many berries help protect the brain from oxidative stress (and toxic pollutants) believed to reduce risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Studies suggest blueberries support learning capability and motor skills.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Your Brain’s Best Friend

Omega-3 fatty acids play crucial roles in reducing bad cholesterol, decreasing inflammation, and asthma, among other conditions. There’s a balance between Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids you should know about.

  • Walnuts. Consume them in whole form, with the skin on, for maximum polyphenols. These little nuts are full of Omega-3 fatty acids which lower your risk for depression, can help you sleep better, and increase memory.
  • Salmon. Naturally high in Omega-3, these keep your brain full and fit. Studies show that people with low levels of Omega-3 have smaller brains than those with high levels.

  • Olive Oil. High in monounsaturated fats and polyphenols, consuming olive oil has natural anti-inflammatory benefits and has been shown to help improve memory.
  • Flaxseed. A great source of protein and fiber, this little seed is also a good source of vitamin E, which can help decrease cognitive decline.
  • Avocado. This incredibly underrated fruit, is full of healthy fats that help to normalize blood pressure and cranial blood flow. Healthy blood flow means a healthier brain. (And good guacamole can’t be beat!)

Can Chocolate Actually Be Good for Your Brain?

  • Dark Chocolate. It’s true, chocolate is a health food! Just a few ounces of organic cocoa can help improve blood circulation to the brain. It also stimulates “get happy” endorphin production and increases antioxidants. Try BrainMD’s healthy chocolate bars!
  • Peppermint. This food doesn’t even need to be eaten, based on its aromatic properties. Whether eaten, chewed, or smelled, peppermint can increase both alertness and memory, while improving reasoning and problem solving kills.
  • Green Tea. Antioxidants in green tea help decrease toxic free radicals and encourages healthy blood flow. Drinking green tea in some studies has been shown to potentially decrease the risk for dementia and it may help curb cognitive decline. Always brew fresh leaves – powdered drinks will not provide brain health benefits.

Taking care of your brain may be as easy as eating healthy meals, drinking plenty of water (and tea), and ramping up that exercise routine. Find 100 brain-healthy recipes in Tana Amen’s and Dr. Amen’s newest book, The Brain Warrior’s Way Cookbook.

Last week’s report of an experimental treatment that seems to remove plaque from clogged arteries is potentially good news for legions of people threatened with cardiovascular disease. If the findings can be verified in larger and longer studies, the medical profession may have entered a new era in treatments to ward off heart attacks and strokes. Yet this therapy might never have been pursued were it not for a fluke discovery that made patenting possible. Otherwise there would have been little financial incentive for any company to develop the treatment for clinical use.

Although the results announced last week are more suggestive than conclusive, they clearly have scientists excited. Intravenous infusions of a genetically engineered protein actually caused fatty deposits on artery walls to diminish in volume and thickness. The rate of reversal, after just five weekly infusions, far exceeded anything previously achieved with drugs or diets used for much longer periods. The substance infused contained a genetically engineered variant of the key protein in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the so-called good cholesterol.

For some time now, pharmaceutical companies have been trying to develop pills that might stimulate the body to produce its own H.D.L. cholesterol, thus far with no great success. An alternative approach, infusing H.D.L. cholesterol directly into the body, was shown effective in animals more than a decade ago, but the industry never really pursued it. One reason was that companies saw little economic incentive in using a normal body protein for therapeutic purposes, since it would be hard to gain patent protection. A medicine that could be made and sold by anybody had little potential for profit. That problem was circumvented in this case by using a mutant form of protein discovered among some 40-plus inhabitants of a small Italian village. That made the drug unique, and patentable.

Several companies are exploring different approaches to develop their own H.D.L. pills or infusion therapy, increasing the likelihood that science may find a new weapon against clogging of the arteries. That’s good news. But the fact that such a promising treatment was widely ignored because there was no immediate profit potential is disturbing. In theory, the nation’s great web of government-financed medical research institutions should step in to promote development of the kinds of drugs and therapy that industry regards as unprofitable. This story makes one wonder how many similar gaps exist in the vaunted American research establishment.

Promising approach to reducing plaque in arteries

The study was published online by Nature Metabolism.

Current treatments for plaque and hardened arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis, can slow but not improve the disease. Experts believe that may be due to ongoing inflammation in blood vessels. To understand the factors contributing to this inflammation, the research team focused on a group of proteins, called transforming growth factor beta (TGFß), that regulates a wide range of cells and tissues throughout the body.

Using cultured human cells, the researchers discovered that TGFβ proteins trigger inflammation in endothelial cells — the cells that form the inner lining of artery walls — but not in other cell types. With a technique called single cell RNA-seq analysis, which measures the expression of every gene in single cells, they then showed that TGFβ induced inflammation in these cells in mouse models. This finding was notable, said the researchers, because TGFβ proteins are known to decrease inflammation in other cells in the body.

The researchers also showed that when the TGFβ receptor gene is deleted in endothelial cells, both the inflammation and plaque in blood vessels are significantly reduced.

To test this approach as a potential therapy, the team, led by professor of medicine Michael Simons, M.D., used an “interfering” RNA, or RNAi, drug developed at Yale, to disrupt TGFß receptors. Interfering RNA use a gene’s own DNA sequence to turn off or silence the gene. To deliver the drug only to endothelial cells in the blood vessel walls of mice, they employed microscopic particles, or nanoparticles, created by their co-authors at MIT. This strategy reduced inflammation and plaque as effectively as the genetic technique.

The findings identify TGFß signaling as a major cause of chronic vessel wall inflammation, and demonstrate that disruption of this pathway leads to cessation of inflammation and substantial regression of existing plaque, said the scientists.

Based on this discovery, investigators at Yale and MIT have launched a biotech company, VasoRX, Inc., to develop this targeted approach, using the RNAi drug delivered by nanoparticles as a potential therapy for atherosclerosis in people.

Foods to clean arteries

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