Your blood completes a single course through your body in five minutes and recirculates about 1,500 times in an average day. You can help keep your arteries open and clear and carrying oxygen and nutrients to busy, hardworking cells by choosing certain foods for their particular, artery-specific health benefits.
Replace saturated and trans fats with olive and fish oils to help keep your arteries free and clear of obstructive plaque buildup advises the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide. These fats quell inflammation that can instigate atherosclerosis. A study published in the August 2012 issue of the "European Journal of Nutrition" found that polyphenol antioxidants in olive oil improve function of the endothelium -- the inner linings of arteries -- in people with early signs of endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis. Participants included 30 milliliters of olive oil in their diets each day for four months. Results showed significant reduction in inflammation and reduced levels of white blood cells and platelets, both of which contribute to arterial plaque formation.
Complex carbohydrates help heal your arteries by preventing spikes in blood sugar that occur after meals that contain processed sugars and carbohydrates. In a study published in the October 2012 issue of the journal "Atherosclerosis," participants with Type 2 diabetes ate a diet of rice that was supplemented with resistant starch -- a type of dietary fiber -- for four weeks. Results showed improvements in function of the endothelium along with a decrease in post-meal blood sugar levels and decreased oxidation, or cellular stress from accumulated toxins and waste products, in the arteries.
Curried foods may keep your arteries healthy by virtue of the healing properties of turmeric, one of the main spices in curry, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, prevents cholesterol from accumulating in foam cells -- white blood cells that absorb oxidized cholesterol and burrow into the endothelium, initiating plaque formation, according to an animal study published in the May 2012 issue of the journal "Molecular Nutrition and Food Research." Curcumin also promoted the removal of cholesterol from existing foam cells, in effect reversing the process of plaque formation.
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, protect muscles that line arteries from becoming damaged, according to a study published in the November 2012 issue of the journal "Atherosclerosis." Sulfur-containing compounds, called sulforaphanes, in these vegetables inhibited inflammation and scar tissue from developing within artery walls in the laboratory animal study. Researchers concluded that high-sulforaphane vegetables may help prevent arteries from developing blockages.
- Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide: What You Eat Can Fuel or Cool Inflammation, a Key Driver of Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Other Chronic Conditions
- European Journal of Nutrition: Beneficial Effects of Polyphenol-Rich Olive Oil in Patients with Early Atherosclerosis
- Atherosclerosis: Dietary Treatment with Rice Containing Resistant Starch Improves Markers of Endothelial Function with Reduction of Postprandial Blood Glucose and Oxidative Stress in Patients with Prediabetes or Newly Diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Turmeric
- Molecular Nutrition and Food Research: Molecular Mechanism of Curcumin on the Suppression of Cholesterol Accumulation in Macrophage Foam Cells and Atherosclerosis
- Atherosclerosis: Sulforaphane Inhibits Restenosis by Suppressing Inflammation and the Proliferation of Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells
- University of California Santa Barbara: ScienceLine
Tracey Roizman, DC is a writer and speaker on natural and preventive health care and a practicing chiropractor. She also holds a B.S. in nutritional biochemistry.