Atherosclerosis occurs when fat builds up in the artery walls. You’ve probably heard of a condition called arterial occlusion or atherosclerosis.
This causes the blood vessels to narrow, restricting blood flow to the heart and other parts of the body.
This article lists 15 foods that can help prevent clogged arteries.
How do arteries get blocked?
Atherosclerosis is considered the leading cause of heart disease, including coronary artery disease, the most common type of heart disease in the United States.
Atherosclerosis is the primary cause of approximately 50% of deaths in Western countries (1Trusted Source).
It is a chronic inflammatory disease with multiple risk factors.
If you are at higher risk of developing atherosclerosis (1 trusted source, 2 trusted sources, 3):
High in LDL (bad) cholesterol
high blood pressure
family history of atherosclerosis
eating the wrong food
creating a sedentary lifestyle
On the other hand, eating a diet rich in certain foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and fish, has been shown to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease ( 4Trusted Source ).
Here are 15 foods that can help prevent clogged arteries.
- Fruits and vegetables
Berries include blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, blackberries, and raspberries.
These fruits have many health benefits, including reducing inflammation and improving heart health.
Fruits are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and plant compounds. These include flavonoid antioxidants that help improve heart health ( 5Trusted Source ).
Studies have shown that eating berries can significantly reduce risk factors for atherosclerosis, including LDL (bad) cholesterol, high blood pressure, and blood sugar ( 6Trusted Source , 7Trusted Source ).
Berries reduce inflammation and cholesterol build-up, improve artery function, and prevent clogging by protecting against cellular damage ( 8Trusted Source ).
Beans are rich in fiber and are known for their heart health benefits. Eating fiber-rich foods like beans is essential for preventing atherosclerosis ( 9Trusted Source ).
Eating beans is an excellent way to keep cholesterol levels in check, thereby reducing the risk of clogging arteries. Many studies have shown that eating beans can significantly lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels (10, 11, 12).
One review of 26 high-quality studies found that diets containing about 1 serving (130 grams) of beans per day were associated with significantly lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels than a control diet ( 12Trusted Source ).
Studies have shown that foods containing beans lower blood pressure, improve arterial function, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. All these effects reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (133. Fish
Fish is full of important nutrients, including omega-3 fats. Eating fish rich in omega-3 helps reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.
Research shows that omega-3s help reduce the expression of cell adhesion molecules, which are proteins that help cells stick to each other and to their environment.
In response to inflammation, your body releases adhesion molecules that act as a driving force behind clogged arteries ( 16 , 17 , 18 , 19 ).
In addition, fish consumption reduces the risk of atherosclerosis.
A study of 961 people compared participants who ate less than one serving of fish per week to those who ate two or more servings of fish per week.
The study found that 13.3% of people who ate less fish had atherosclerosis of the carotid arteries that supply blood to the brain, compared to only 6.6% of people in the fish-eating group ( 20Trusted Source ).
- Tomatoes and tomato products
Tomatoes and tomato products contain plant compounds that help reduce the development of atherosclerosis.
For example, tomatoes contain the carotenoid pigment lycopene, which may have amazing health benefits.
Studies show that consuming lycopene-rich tomato products can reduce inflammation, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart disease ( 21 , 22 , 23 Trusted Source ).
Interestingly, combining cooked tomatoes with olive oil provides the best protection against clogged arteries.
One study in 40 people found that eating tomato sauce with olive oil had the greatest effect on reducing adhesion molecules and inflammatory proteins compared to raw tomatoes and plain tomato sauce.
However, all tomato preparations increase HDL (good) cholesterol and lower total cholesterol (24).