An unpronounceable disease, atherosclerosis is the number-one killer in the United States; it’s responsible for more than a quarter of our deaths each year.
Atherosclerosis is a disease of the arteries, the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to our organs and tissues. It is a type of arteriosclerosis, the term for any stiffening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis is especially dangerous because it is hidden deep in the body and not easily detectable. It is a slow, progressive disease.
There are different risk factors that increase the possibility of suffering cardiac problems as a result of clogged arteries. For example, hypertension, high cholesterol and obesity.
Many foods high in saturated fat can contribute to atherosclerosis, or the clogging of arteries. These include such foods as whole-fat dairy products, butter, margarine, fatty meats, poultry skins, desserts and snack foods. The trans fat found in some processed foods is a culprit as well.
Plaque then slowly builds up and hardens in the arteries, causing them to narrow. This buildup of plaque, a condition called atherosclerosis, can lead to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
However, there are also other causes related to our habits:
- Drinking alcohol
- Not exercising
- Eating foods filled with fats
Little by little, the fat (or plaque) accumulates in the walls of our arteries, narrowing them and causing them to stiffen. When this happens, our blood cannot flow like it normally does.
When we focus our diets on healthy foods, we can stop and potentially even reverse this narrowing of the arteries. Experts know that food that contributes to high levels of blood cholesterol contains too much saturated fat, trans fat, and dietary cholesterol. The information below can help you identify problem foods and get your arteries into healthier shape.
The foods that cause fat accumulation in the walls of the arteries are:
When it comes to eggs, yolks contain a good amount of lipoproteins that clog arteries.
One egg provides 5 grams of fat and 186 mg of cholesterol.
However, it’s important to note that when you eat them cooked or baked, the levels of fat are less than when they’re fried.
We often consume it daily and we don’t realize that it can be very dangerous for our health, especially when we choose the “whole milk” options.
Milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, ice creams and cream…they all contribute to the accumulation of plaque and the clogging of arteries.
Oils and salty snacks
The majority of oils that are used in the kitchen (corn, sunflower, etc.) are rich in saturated fats. These don’t benefit our cardiovascular health.
Also, the typical snacks that we like to “pick at” (french fries, peanuts, etc.) are made with these types of oil.
For cooking, we recommend that you use oils that contain unsaturated fats such as, olive or rapeseed.
Saturated fat is a main dietary culprit in the buildup of plaque in the arteries. As a result, experts suggest trying to keep saturated fat to less than 7% of total daily calories. A primary source of saturated fat is animal products. Certain oils are high in saturated fat, too. Examples of food high in saturated fat include:
- Whole milk and cream
- High-fat cheese
- High-fat cuts of meat, such as those that look “marbled” with fat
- Processed meats, including sausage, hot dogs, salami and bologna
- Ice cream
- Palm and coconut oils, which are often added to packaged and prepared foods, such as cookies, doughnuts, and even ‘healthful’ energy bars
Pastries and sweets
Popcorn contains butter, pastries and donuts contain fat and sugar, some cookies are made with dairy…
The sweets that we eat at midmorning or for breakfast are made with ingredients that are dangerous for our health.
They are low in antioxidants and fibers and high in fats, refined flour and sugars. All of these ingredients clog our arteries.
The same thing happens with pastries. That is why we recommend replacing them with fresh fruit or healthy snacks (for example, granola or sugar-free cereal bars).
Meat is high in saturated fats and cholesterol. Even meats that are considered “lean” can increase levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol) in the blood.
Processed meats like sausages, hot dogs and bacon, for example, not only contain high levels of saturated fats, but also added salt that make them even worse.
The skin on poultry, such as chicken and turkey, contributes to artery-clogging plaque buildup due to the high fat content. For example, chicken wings are fried with the skin, creating a calorie-dense, high-fat food. The American Heart Association recommends that you remove all skin before cooking, and that to cook lean meat, you use oils that are low in saturated fat, such as olive or canola, or cooking spray.