Your arteries are blood vessels responsible for the transportation of oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. A normal artery will be strong, flexible, and elastic. On the other hand, progressive clogging of the arteries is a serious condition called atherosclerosis. It is the major cause of cardiovascular disease, which includes peripheral vascular disease, strokes, and heart attacks.
Cardiovascular disease is considered the leading cause of death, claiming approximately 600,000 lives every year only in the U.S. It is also known as a silent killer since the condition does not cause any symptoms. That is, until the problem becomes more severe.
Symptoms of clogged arteries
The symptoms of clogged arteries likely depend on the type of arteries being affected.
In your arteries in the brain are clogged, the condition is called carotid artery disease. The plaque will block or narrow the carotid arteries, and signs of a stroke may be present. Symptoms include breathing problems, sudden weakness, confusion, severe headaches, loss of consciousness, blurry vision, trouble with speech, paralysis, trouble walking, dizziness, unexplained falls, and loss of coordination or balance.
If the arteries in the heart are clogged, it is called coronary heart disease. In this case, plaque will block or narrow the coronary arteries when the heart muscle fails to get enough blood. As a result, chest pain, known as angina will occur. It feels like a pressure is squeezing your chest, but you may also feel it in your jaw, neck, arms, shoulders, or back. Angina also sometimes feels like indigestion. Emotional stress will also often trigger angina. Other symptoms include heartbeat problems and shortness of breath.
Chronic kidney disease will develop from clogged renal arteries in the kidneys. Over time, chronic kidney disease can slowly reduce kidney function. There are no symptoms early in kidney disease; however, as the condition worsens, it can lead to loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, concentration problems, numbness or itchiness, and swelling in the feet or hands. Other symptoms include kidney failure and high blood pressure.
Peripheral arterial disease will result from plaque buildup in the arms, legs, and pelvis. These arteries are known as peripheral arteries, and if they are blocked or narrowed, you may experience pain or numbness. On occasion, there are also dangerous infections.
What causes your arteries to get blocked?
Atherosclerosis is often referred to as the hardening, thickening, and narrowing of the arteries. A thin layer of endothelial cells that help keep the inside of your arteries smooth and toned lines your arteries. This process allows your blood to keep flowing.
However, several factors will damage the endothelial cells, including platelet cells, increased homocysteine levels, vitamin C deficiency, and free radicals from toxins and antioxidant deficiency.
Plaque will accumulate when various substances are unable to migrate out of the atherosclerotic lesion. These substances include fat, calcium, toxic metals, cellular waste, and LDL cholesterol.
While the exact cause of clogged arteries is a mystery, data shows that atherosclerosis is a complex and slow condition that may begin in childhood and develop as you get older. Certain factors may damage your arteries’ inner layers, including smoking, high blood pressure, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance.
Other contributing factors of atherosclerosis include lack of exercise, being overweight, heavy metal exposure, elevated triglycerides, and chronic inflammation from diseases, infections, lupus, or arthritis. High cholesterol and fats in the blood are also possible causes of atherosclerosis. On rare occasions, genetics may also play a factor with elevated production of cholesterol associated with atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis can also be caused by oxidative stress through depletion of vitamin C or other antioxidants. Nutrient deficiencies or imbalances may also lead to atherosclerosis. They may include magnesium, potassium, fiber, antioxidants, and methyl donators. Dietary factors also include a diet high in sugar, processed starches, and damaged fats from overheating oils.
10 natural foods to unclog your arteries
Want to know how to unclog your arteries and reverse atherosclerosis? Your doctor may prescribe cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins drugs, or beta-blockers that lower blood pressure. These will help slow the progression of plaque buildup.
However, there are also plenty of well-researched foods that can unclog your arteries naturally instead:
Turmeric is a popular spice used in Indian and Ayurvedic cooking. The main polyphenol in turmeric called curcumin has long been known for its cardioprotective effects. Turmeric extract is thought to decrease LDL cholesterol and the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
In a 2011 study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, researchers found that turmeric could reduce cholesterol and suppress early atherosclerotic lesions better than the cholesterol-lowering drug lovastatin.
Garlic is also considered one of the better foods that unclog your arteries. Studies have found that garlic can help prevent heart disease, lower blood pressure, and slow down atherosclerosis. In a study published in the journal Atherosclerosis in 1999, researchers found that garlic could prevent plaque buildup in the arteries.
A review published in the journal Nutrition in 1997 found that clinical trials on garlic had positive effects in the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis. Another study from 1999 also found that garlic can reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack by more than 50percent. Garlic is thought to help against strokes and heart attacks since garlic acts as a blood thinner.
Ginger has incredible anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects. Ginger contains heart-protective compounds like shogaols and gingerols, which can effectively prevent plaque buildup and unclog arteries by reducing total cholesterol.
According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2000, researchers found that ginger extract could reduce aortic atherosclerotic lesion areas, cholesterol, and triglycerides in the blood.
Adding lemon juice in your morning water is a healthy habit and good for your heart. Lemon is known to reduce blood cholesterol levels, and it helps the arteries by preventing oxidative damage. Lemons are also a great source of the potent antioxidant vitamin C. High doses of vitamin C have been found to strengthen arteries, reduce total cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, inhibit platelet aggregation, and reduce inflammation.
5. Cayenne pepper
The compound capsaicin found in cayenne pepper can help reduce cholesterol in the blood. Cayenne pepper can also lower your risk of stroke and heart attack, and improve blood circulation. A study published in 2009 found that capsaicin could help prevent atherosclerosis and pulmonary artery hypertension.
Cinnamon can help reduce many risk factors associated with atherosclerosis and heart disease. A 2003 study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that either one gram, three grams, or six grams of cinnamon daily can lower glucose, triglycerides, cholesterol, and total cholesterol in type 2 diabetics. Researchers concluded that cinnamon can help reduce the risk factors of cardiovascular disease.
7. Ground flaxseed
Flaxseed is another important food for heart health. Ground flaxseed can help unclog arteries with high fiber. It is also a good source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 acid that can lower inflammation and blood pressure. In a 1997 study published in the journal Atherosclerosis, researchers found that flaxseed lowered the development of aortic atherosclerosis by 46 percent in rabbits.
8. Fermented cabbage
Kimchi is a popular probiotic Korean recipe that includes fermented cabbage and hot peppers that has been found to slow the atherosclerotic process. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that an active compound in kimchi called 3-94-hydroxy-3,5-dimethoxyphenyl can help prevent the development of aortic atherosclerosis in high-cholesterol-fed rabbits.
9. Sesame seed
Sesame seeds can help unclog a blocked artery. Evidence shows that they can help prevent the progression of atherosclerosis. A three-month animal study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2006 suggests that the fatty acid content in sesame oil could effectively inhibit atherosclerotic lesion formation, blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels.
10. Pomegranate juice
The high antioxidant content and punicic acid in pomegranate juice are thought to help reduce plaque formation, unclog arteries, and fight atherosclerosis. Pomegranate juice also contains important nutrients for heart health, such as magnesium and selenium.
In a randomized, double-blind, parallel study published in the American Journal of Cardiology in 2009, researchers found that drinking 240 milliliters (ml) of pomegranate juice daily for up to 18 months slowed the progression of carotid artery disease for patients at risk of coronary health disease.
Other natural remedies for clogged arteries
Other foods that unclog your arteries include asparagus, avocado, broccoli, chia seeds, fenugreek seeds, and coconut oil. Dietary supplements and nutrients that can help with atherosclerosis include methyl donators like vitamin B6, choline, folic acid, and vitamin B12, as well as antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, zeaxanthin, grape seed extract, and pine bark extract.
Other important nutrients include L-arginine, vitamin D, vitamin B3, fish oils, and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Nutritional chelation is also a high-dose nutrient technique that supports plaque removal. Other supplements include magnesium, selenium, resveratrol, copper, chromium, and trimethylglycine.
Finally, exercise is considered just as important as dieting for unclogging arteries. Exercises that reduce stress are important, including meditation, yoga, tai chi, and qigong. Aerobic exercises, gardening, walking, or running can also help combat atherosclerosis. Exercise for about 30 minutes daily for five days a week.