Your arteries are constantly working to keep you alive and healthy. Some arteries carry oxygen and nutrients from your heart to other parts of your body, while other arteries transfer oxygen to your heart for healthy functioning. Although many factors can affect the health of your heart and arteries, your diet and nutrition play a key role.
“Nutrition plays a multifactorial role in preventing the progression and promotion of plaque in the arteries, and what we eat can cause constriction in the arteries, buildup of substances, and/or trigger an inflammatory response that can cause clogged arteries,” says Michelle Routhenstein, MS, RD, CDE, CDNcardiology dietitian and owner of fully fed. “On the other hand, what we eat can also allow the arteries to open, the elimination of these substances (i.e. fatty acids, cellular waste products, calcium) and reduce inflammation in the arteries – leading to optimal heart health and the prevention of plaque formation in the arteries.
Keep reading to learn more about diet for better artery and heart health, and for more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out The Best Vegetable for Heart Disease.
Oats are not only delicious, they can also provide a long list of health benefits. These benefits include weight management, improved gut health, and heart health.
“Oats contain a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan,” explains Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD author of The Sports Nutrition Handbook and a member of our expert medical board. “It partially dissolves in water and forms a thick gel-like solution in your gut, further helping to lower bad cholesterol and total cholesterol, i.e. prevent clogged arteries and increase the feeling of fullness. The best part is that oats are really versatile. They can be eaten as rolled oats, chilled oats overnight, toasted, and used as a topping on a yogurt parfait, or you can grind oats into flour for breads, pancakes and muffins to increase the fiber in your favorite baked foods., oats go well with other heart-healthy foods like berries, nuts and seeds.”
Fruit is a healthy way to get a dose of natural sweetness and tons of helpful nutrients. But Goodson points out that sometimes the skin of a fruit can pack the most nutrient-dense punch.
“Fruits like apples, pears, peaches, and berries also have soluble fiber in their skins that can help lower cholesterol, which ultimately helps clog your arteries, so pair something like an apple with almonds. snack time is a win for heart health,” says Goodson.
Since soluble fiber can help you manage your cholesterol and heart health, it can be helpful to find unique ways to consume fiber throughout the day.
“Energy bites made with oats, seeds like chia, pumpkin, and hemp seeds can really boost your intake of heart-healthy soluble fiber,” Goodson says. “And instead of using honey or maple syrup as a ‘glue’ to put them together, puree fresh Medjool dates to add fiber and potassium, another friend of the heart. This will provide a natural sweetness with the health benefits of fiber.”
Certain nutrients can help you maintain a healthy heart and prevent clogged arteries. B12 and folate are some examples, which you can get from supplements or food sources like fish, chicken, dairy, beans, whole grains, and vegetables.
“If you don’t get enough folate or B12 from your diet, it could lead to increased homocysteine levels, which can promote plaque buildup in the arteries,” Routhenstein says.
It’s okay to indulge in your favorite sweet once in a while, but limiting it can help improve your heart health.
“Consuming high amounts of saturated fats and refined sugars can clog arteries causing elevations in LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar, which can worsen blood vessel health, leading to the promotion of plaque in the arteries,” explains Routhenstein.