Clogged arteries are a serious concern as plaque buildup can lead to life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, stroke, or a heart attack. These blockages are often the result of poor diet choices; therefore, it’s important to know how to clean your arteries naturally with healthy food and other beneficial lifestyle choices. More severe cases may require medication or even surgical procedures.
A clogged artery develops over time as fat, cholesterol, calcium, and cellular waste collect and build up as plaque along the walls. This can interfere with the free flow of oxygenated blood throughout your body. At the same time, the immune system responds by releasing white blood cells to fight the problem, resulting in inflammation. This action can exacerbate the blockage.
We will discuss how to unclog arteries, and possibly prevent clogs from forming, by following a healthy diet of soluble fiber, antioxidants, and healthy fats, as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle with exercise.
In This Article:
22 Best Foods to Unclog 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 primary polyphenol in turmeric called curcumin has long been known for its cardioprotective effects. Turmeric extract is thought to reduce 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. Also, a 2006 study on mice suggested that curcumin can help prevent artery damage associated with carotid artery blockage.
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 50%. Garlic is thought to help against strokes and heart attacks since garlic acts as a blood thinner.
Want to know how to clean your arteries naturally? Use ginger! 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, LDL-linked fat peroxides, and LDL aggregation.
4. Cayenne Pepper
Something spicy can also help unclog your arteries. The compound capsaicin found in cayenne pepper can help reduce LDL cholesterol in the blood. Cayenne pepper can also lower your risk of stroke and heart attack, and improve blood circulation. Also, highly-active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) with HIV protease inhibitor ritonavir is associated with accelerating atherosclerosis and pulmonary artery hypertension. A study published in 2009 found that capsaicin could help prevent pulmonary and vascular complications associated with HAART drugs.
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 high-density lipoprotein (HDL), inhibit platelet aggregation, and reduce inflammation.
Cinnamon can help reduce many risk factors associated with atherosclerosis and heart disease. A 2003 study published in the journal Diabetes Care in 2003 found that either one gram, three grams, or six grams of cinnamon daily can lower glucose, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol in type 2 diabetics. The study observed 60 diabetics for a 40-day period. 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 turn, arteries will not become clogged. In a 1997 study published in the journal Atherosclerosis, researchers found that flaxseed lowered the development of aortic atherosclerosis by 46% in rabbits.
Researchers concluded that modest flaxseed supplementation is an effective treatment for reducing hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis. Also, it is a good idea to grind your flaxseed. They contain greater amounts of omega-3. On the other hand, the polyunsaturated fats in pre-ground flaxseeds will break down over longer exposure to oxygen, and it can become rancid.
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. Fermented cabbage has also found to degrade toxic chemicals, including bisphenol A and the insecticide chlorpyrifos.
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 atherosclerosis lesion formation, blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol levels in mice.
10. Pomegranate Juice
The high antioxidant content and punicic acid in pomegranate juice are thought to help decrease 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.
With its high content of L-citrulline, an amino acid that reduces inflammation while lowering blood pressure, watermelon may be effective for treating clogged arteries. The fruit also has the ability to stimulate nitric oxide production to expand and clear arteries.
You could potentially prevent clogged arteries by incorporating one cup of watermelon, or one glass of watermelon juice, into your daily diet.
12. Whole Grains
Whole grains such as pastas, breads, brown rice, barley, oatmeal, and quinoa may help dissolve blocking matter in the arteries and keep the passageways clear.
The high soluble fiber content may lower cholesterol by removing excess amounts of harmful low-density lipoprotein, LDL, cholesterol from the blood. The magnesium found in whole grains works to expand narrowed blood vessels.
To help promote proper functioning of the arteries, consume six servings of whole grains each day.
Known as blue-green algae, spirulina is a complete protein abundant in essential amino acids and also works to regulate serum lipid levels. It has alpha-linolenic acid, which research suggests can reduce inflammation and open the arterial walls.
You can add the cytobacteria to many recipes in powder form or take a daily spirulina supplement.
Spinach contains natural fiber, potassium, and folate, which all work to prevent blockages within the arteries as well as lower blood pressure. This dark leafy vegetable protects against cardiovascular disease by reducing levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is thought to lead to strokes and heart attacks in elevated levels.
Whether the spinach is cooked or raw, one daily serving is recommended to clean arteries naturally.
The persimmon fruit has antioxidants and polyphenols that could lower the harmful levels of LDLs and triglycerides that lead to high blood pressure. It regulates levels through the high-fiber content, which, in turn, can help keep arteries clean and prevent them from being clogged.
Persimmons can be consumed raw, cooked, or as a dried fruit.
16. Orange Juice
Orange juice made from pure oranges, with no added sugar, is packed with the antioxidant vitamin C, which helps reduce oxidation of the blood. This action keeps the arteries free from blockage.
Daily consumption of two cups of orange juice has been shown in studies to lower inflammation in the arteries and regulate blood pressure.
17. Olive Oil
Known for its ability to protect against cardiovascular diseases, olive oil has a high content of antioxidants. The polyphenols and healthy fats in the oil work to lower cholesterol and oxidative stress in the bloodstream.
Olive oil has been proven in clinical studies to lower the risk of clogged arteries and other cardiovascular issues by 41%. This is attributed to a reduction in the LDL levels and boost in the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels to eliminate plaque buildup.
Raw nuts, particularly almonds and walnuts, offer fiber, vitamins, protein, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, and magnesium to help reduce inflammation and blood pressure.
Nuts could help clear arteries and prevent blockage when one serving is consumed daily.
19. Green Tea
Used as an antioxidant, green tea contains the flavanoid catechin, which studies suggest lowers cholesterol absorption to prevent clogged arteries.
The compound also boosts the metabolism rate, which can help with weight issues that can lead to cardiovascular problems such as blockage.
This risk may be lowered with a daily consumption of two to three cups of green tea.
20. Cold-Water “Fatty” Fish
Cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel are enriched with healthy omega-3 fatty acids that protect the cardiovascular system. These fish, especially salmon, lower triglyceride levels while boosting high-density lipoproteins.
It is recommended to have two servings of fish per week to help reduce inflammation, remove plaque, and clear blood clots from the arteries.
Cranberries have antioxidants that could help regulate high blood pressure, which often causes arteries to clog. By increasing the beneficial HDL cholesterol and lowering the harmful LDL cholesterol, this may help to lower the risk for cardiovascular issues by nearly 40%.
Two daily servings of pure cranberry juice are recommended for optimal results.
Recent studies have found that drinking eight to 16 ounces of coffee each day may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke by between 10% and 20%. These studies also warn that excess intake can raise blood pressure levels.
Research into the reasoning, or bioactive components, behind the reduction is ongoing.
Lifestyle Changes to Unclog Arteries
Read food and drink labels to help you choose healthier options. Certain ingredients can induce inflammation and increase blood pressure, which can lead to clogged arteries.
- Use unsaturated fats instead of trans fats and saturated fats. Avoid products with hydrogenated oils and fats such as red meat, full-fat cheeses, butters, margarines, and dairy products.
- Choose healthy cooking oils such as sesame, olive, canola, and peanut oils. Coconut and palm oils may be used but only in limited quantities as they have a high calorie content.
- Consume omega-3 fats twice each week. These include tuna, salmon, trout, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, legumes, avocados, leafy green vegetables, tofu, and soy products.
- Switch to whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and nine-grain breads while avoiding products made with white flour. Eat at least three servings daily.
- Boost your fiber intake with vegetables, fruit, nuts, oats, barley, and legumes. Women are to consume 21 to 25 grams (g) daily, while men require 30 to 38 g each day.
- Avoid sweet treats, including sugary beverages.
- Limit your sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams (mg) each day, with high blood pressure patients limiting sodium intake to 1,500 mg daily.
2. Tobacco Use
Quit smoking as tobacco products contain chemicals that can damage the blood vessel walls and blood cells. This can lead to plaque buildup and clogged arteries. It is important to get help to stop smoking, if needed.
Regular exercise works towards preventing clogged arteries in several ways. Work your way up to physical activity of 30-minute routines, five times each week.
- Promote the loss of excess weight that may be causing high blood pressure and cholesterol, which leads to plaque buildup.
- Maintain proper blood circulation.
- Regulate blood pressure levels.
4. Manage Stress
Stress hormones may cause inflammation within the body, including the arteries.
- Practice meditation to produce a calming effect on the mind.
- Perform low-impact physical activities such as yoga to possibly alleviate stressful thoughts.
- Talk to a trusted friend.
- Keep a journal.
- Listen to music.
- Dive into a good book.
5. Alcohol Use
Some studies indicate that alcohol may have a protective effect against heart disease in some people. However, excessive use can cause a spike in blood pressure and damage heart muscles, leading to clogged arteries.
- Limit your alcohol intake to one daily drink for women and two for males.
- Safe limits include 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of spirits.
6. Control Your Diabetes
There is an increased risk of peripheral artery disease among type 2 diabetes patients. This may lead to clogged arteries in the abdomen, neck, arms, legs, and feet.
- Monitor your blood glucose levels regularly.
- Exercise daily.
- Follow a healthy diet.
7. Regular Check-ups
See your doctor regularly for periodic check-ups to monitor overall health. It is important to closely monitor your blood pressure, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels.
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.
Again, 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.
Symptoms of Clogged Arteries
The symptoms of clogged arteries likely depend on the type of arteries being affected.
- Carotid arteries: When you have clogged arteries in your brain, it is a condition called carotid artery disease. 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.
- Coronary arteries: When the arteries in the heart are clogged, it is called coronary heart disease, or CHD. 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 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 CHD symptoms include heartbeat problems and shortness of breath.
- Renal arteries: Chronic kidney disease will develop from clogged renal arteries in the kidneys. Over time, chronic kidney disease can slowly impair 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 arteries: 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, and free radicals from toxins and antioxidant deficiency. Also, vitamin C deficiency and homocysteine will damage the arteries from degradation of a gel-like substance called the ground substance. It is found between the cells, and helps maintain the integrity of the epithelial cell barrier.
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 cholesterol such as LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol. A material involved in blood clotting called fibrin is also accumulated when arteries are clogged.
While the exact cause of clogged arteries is a mystery, evidence 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, a type-A personality, 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.
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