Clogged arteries or atherosclerosis is a buildup of plaque in arteries. Plaque is a mixture of fibrous and fatty accumulation that can narrow your arteries. Clogged arteries restrict the movement of oxygen and blood throughout your body. Certain foods, especially those that elevate your blood sugar or have a lot of bad cholesterol, can increase your risk of clogged arteries.
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Clogged Arteries and Their Causes
Clogged arteries can be dangerous. If you have clogged arteries, you may experience pain in your limbs or poor circulation. Clogged arteries can lead to conditions like heart attacks, heart disease, peripheral artery disease and stroke. Even though they're best known for negatively affecting the health of your heart, clogged arteries can occur anywhere in your body.
Clogged arteries are thought to be caused by various factors, including high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. Certain foods can increase your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol and consequently also lead to clogged arteries. Other factors, like whether you exercise and smoke, can also increase your likelihood of having clogged arteries.
Read More: The Effect of Diet on the Circulatory System
Foods That Clog Arteries
Foods that clog arteries are typically high in saturated fats and cholesterol. They may also contain a lot of sugar and simple carbohydrates, like white bread. Usually, it's not just one type of food but the combination that negatively affects artery and heart health.
According to an interview with Time Magazine, Hofstra University and St. John Episcopal Hospital cardiologist Dr. Regina Druz says that "saturated fats from animals, especially when combined with carbohydrates, appear to have a deleterious effect on heart health."
Previously, foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol were thought to be the primary culprits behind clogged arteries. A 2017 editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine discusses how other foods, like carbohydrates and sugar, can also contribute to clogged arteries. Some examples of these foods include:
- Fast-food products, like french fries, fried chicken and pizza. You should consume these in moderation. Also, try healthier variations like baked sweet potato fries instead of deep-fried french fries.
- Refined grain products, like cereals, bread, pasta and pastries. You can opt for healthier whole-grain versions of the same products instead.
- Saturated fats are the main type of fat that clogs arteries. However, not all saturated fats are the same. Saturated fats from meat are more likely to cause cardiovascular disease than those from dairy products, for instance. Lean meats and low-fat dairy products can be the best versions of these products to consume. Always try to use olive oil and other healthy fats instead of butter when possible.
- Sugary foods, like candy, soft drinks, sweetened juices and cookies. Even certain breakfast products, like sugary cereals, can be harmful in excess. Instead, try to eat more natural sugars, like those found in mangoes or pineapple.
Most people can eat these foods in moderation; it's too much of them that can contribute to clogged arteries. If you're worried about your heart health or clogged arteries, make sure that you're a healthy weight and try to exercise every day. You can also try certain diets, like the Mediterranean diet, which are known to improve heart health.
Read More: The 14 Best Foods for Your Heart
- American Heart Association: Are Eggs Good for You or Not?
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source: Eggs
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Dietary Intake of Saturated Fat by Food Source and Incident Cardiovascular Disease: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis
- American Journal of Epidemiology: Fast-Food Consumption, Diet Quality and Neighborhood Exposure to Fast Food: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis
- British Journal of Sports Medicine: Saturated Fat Does Not Clog the Arteries: Coronary Heart Disease Is a Chronic Inflammatory Condition, the Risk of Which Can Be Effectively Reduced From Healthy Lifestyle Interventions
- Time: The 10 Worst Foods for Your Heart
- Atherosclerosis: Associations Between Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Subclinical Atherosclerosis in Middle-Aged Adults: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.