Q:

What foods clean out your arteries?

A:

Avocados, whole grains, nuts, plant sterols, fish, asparagus, pomegranate, broccoli, persimmons, spirulina, cranberries and watermelon all have positive effects on the circulatory system and aid in the reduction of fatty deposits in the arteries, according to Jessica Smith for Shape magazine. Green tea also has positive artery-cleaning benefits.

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Over time, the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart develop plaque comprised of cholesterol, fat, calcium and other bloodborne substances, explains the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. This plaque buildup causes a hardening of the arterial walls and constricts blood flow leading to a heart attack.

Eating healthy nuts such as walnuts or almonds, or fruits such as persimmons and cranberries, reduces the amount of low-density lipoproteins in the body, notes Smith. Reducing these low-density lipoproteins reduces the buildup of plaque-developing cholesterol in the body. Ingesting fatty fish such as tuna or salmon in addition to these foods increases the presence of high-density lipoproteins that then flush the cholesterol already present in the body into the liver. Eat avocados; whole grains such as oatmeal and brown rice; broccoli; and foods fortified with plant sterols to reduce overall cholesterol levels in the body. Plant sterols are found in fortified margarine and orange juice that are free of trans fats. Add asparagus, pomegranate, cinnamon and watermelon to the diet to protect arterial walls from hardening plaque. The supplement spirulina, a type of blue-green algae, also helps to relax the walls of the arteries.

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