The Effect of Diet on the Circulatory System

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Your circulatory system consists of the heart, blood and blood vessels. It's the body system responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients to the cells and for assisting in the elimination of certain cellular waste products. Your diet has a significant effect upon the overall health and wellness of your circulatory system.

The Circulatory System

Your circulatory system is very mechanical in nature. In many ways, it works just like a pump circulating fluid through a series of pipes. In the same way that such a pump system would fail if there were something wrong with the pump -- or if the pipes became clogged -- failure of the heart or clogging of the arteries leads to a failure of the circulatory system.

Vascular Health

Your diet affects the health of your blood vessels. Some of the foods you eat cause cholesterol plaques to build up in your arteries, which are the vessels that carry blood away from the heart and toward the body cells. If these vessels become clogged by plaques, you can't deliver blood as efficiently. Similarly, if vessels harden, they're susceptible to tearing, which can lead to clot formation and clogging of the vessels.

Unhealthy Foods

Specifically, the foods that negatively impact vascular health are those with large quantities of saturated and trans fats. Saturated fat is most common in animal products, while trans fats occur in processed foods. Your body makes cholesterol from saturated and trans fats, explain Drs. Reginald Garrett and Charles Grisham in their book "Biochemistry." Eating large quantities of saturated and trans fat-containing foods increases your risk of vascular disease.

Heart Health

If vessels become clogged, your heart health is also affected. The heart is a muscle, and like other body muscles, it depends upon a steady supply of blood. Clogging of the arteries that feed the heart leads to heart attack, explains Dr. Lauralee Sherwood in her book "Human Physiology." The American Heart Association recommends limiting unhealthy fats to maintain heart health and minimize your risk of heart attack.

Healthy Foods

Some foods benefit the circulatory system. For instance, unsaturated fats -- these occur mostly as plant-based oils -- are heart healthy and improve your cholesterol levels, preventing buildup of plaques in the arteries. Eating plenty of dietary fiber also helps -- particularly soluble fiber, which absorbs cholesterol in the digestive tract and helps prevent your blood cholesterol levels from rising as high. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans are all good sources of fiber.

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