Foods That Can Help Prevent Clogged Arteries

Also known as atherosclerosis, clogged arteries can lead to a number of serious health concerns, including heart attack, stroke, and potentially death, according to WebMD. Experts at the site explain that arteries are another name for blood vessels, and are responsible for carrying blood and delivering oxygen to every area of your body. 

When your arteries are healthy, blood can flow easily, because their walls are smooth and open. However, arteries can become clogged due to a buildup of what's called plaque, which can both reduce or completely stop blood flow. This buildup of plaque and the subsequent reduced blood flow can lead to heart attack and stroke. Plaque consists of a number of different materials including calcium, fat, and cholesterol, among others. These can trigger cells in the arteries to multiply and make the walls even narrower. 

According to WebMD, potential triggers of atherosclerosis include smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, and stress. Despite these seemingly daunting prospects, there are a number of different natural ways to prevent and improve the condition of clogged arteries. One of the best (and perhaps easiest) ways is to start incorporating certain foods into your diet. Read on to discover the top 14 foods to help prevent clogged arteries.


Can a tomato a day keep the doctor away? Perhaps it doesn't have the same ring to it as the other well-known proverb, but there is some truth in this saying as well. 

According to WebMD, a study conducted by the American Heart Association published in their journal Atherosclerosis proved that eating tomatoes can actually prevent the buildup of plaque in arteries. According to the site, the ingredient lycopene, which is an antioxidant found in tomatoes, is responsible for this side effect, as it prevents low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol from oxidizing, thus resulting in plaque. Interestingly, while lycopene is found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, it is actually best absorbed by the body from cooked tomatoes instead of raw ones. 

Dr. A. Venketeshwer Rao, professor in the department of nutritional sciences and co-director of the program in food safety at the University of Toronto in Canada, reviewed the study and spoke to WebMD to confirm the benefits. "Oxidation plays an important role in [cardiovascular] risk. A glass of tomato juice may go a long way in preventing chronic diseases," he said. Some of the foods boasting high quantities of lycopene  are tomato paste, tomato juice, canned tomatoes, and ketchup.


Looking to boost the flavor of your meals and throw some heart healthy benefits in there while you're at it? Look no further than your spice cabinet. 

In addition to the flavor they add to food, spices have long been known for their medicinal properties as well, and have been used to treat diseases including chronic inflammation as well as diabetes, according to The Cleveland Heart Lab. Experts at the site go on to mention cucurmin as one of the top spices to help prevent inflammation, citing a study published by the journal Molecules which showed that the spice has been scientifically proven to help blood flow for those who have blocked coronary arteries. 

Cloves are another powerful anti-inflammatory spice that you should consider adding to your repertoire. In a study published by the Journal of American College of Nutrition, ingesting the spice as a capsule has actually been shown to lower "bad" cholesterol levels in the blood, which is one of the first signs of atherosclerosis and can make you four times more likely to develop heart disease.

Leafy greens

Being told to eat your greens might sound a bit old school, but there's a reason these brightly hued veggies are always at the top of every doctor's list. More specifically, studies have shown that leafy greens have been shown to be beneficial for heart health due to their high quantities of nitrates, according to Medical News Today

A study published by the European Journal of Epidemiology showed that nitrates, when consumed daily, have been proven to reduce the risk of artery disease. As one of the study's lead authors, Dr. Catherine Bondonno from ECU's Institute for Nutrition Research, explained via Medical News Today: "Our results have shown that, by simply eating 1 cup of raw (or half a cup of cooked) nitrate-rich vegetables each day, people may be able to significantly reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease." 

Bondonno added that "the greatest reduction in risk was for peripheral artery disease — 26% — a type of heart disease characterized by the narrowing of blood vessels of the legs." The researchers found that these people had a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure as well. To get the most bang for your buck in terms of your leafy green consumption, try adding more spinach, arugula, Chinese cabbage, and parsley to your diet.


This bold, red veggie has made it on the list of blood vessel-friendly foods for a number of reasons. Their shockingly bright color isn't only a feast for the eyes, but also comes with some added benefits for your health.

Registered dietitian Camille Skoda, RD spoke to the Cleveland Clinic about this topic. "Beets are special. They're one of very few fruits or vegetables that have that deep red-purple color, which provides a different set of nutrients and antioxidants than you'll get from produce of other colors." The bright color of the veggie is derived from a plant pigment called betalins, which contain both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Furthermore, beets contain good old nitrates, which as mentioned have major benefits for blood vessels. "Beets contain nitrates, which help widen blood vessels. That can help with blood pressure and may also improve athletic performance and brain function," Skoda went on to explain. 

Beets also contain a significant amount of fiber, which can help maintain blood sugar as well as lower cholesterol. If you need some inspiration on how to prepare them, you can try roasting them, or even going for a can of beets sans the salt or other added ingredients.


The next time you indulge in a bar of dark chocolate, you can do so without guilt, knowing that you're simultaneously doing something great for your body. 

According to Science Daily, 2015 research has shown that the flavanols found in cocoa can reduce the stiffening of arteries and reduce the risk of heart disease. Earlier studies focused on the benefits of cocoa flavanols on high-risk populations, like smokers or those who were previously diagnosed with heart disease. However, a study published by the journal Age examined the effects of the flavanols on healthy individuals. In the study, scientists observed a group of 22 young men and 20 older men who drank drinks with and without cocoa flavanols. They discovered that in both groups, vasodilation, which is defined as the extent to which blood vessels can dilate, improved by 33% in the young group and 32% in the older group who had taken the flavanols. Meanwhile, another study published by The British Journal of Nutrition also confirmed improved vasodilation after the consumption of cocoa flavanols, as well as a decrease in blood pressure and a reduction in "bad" cholesterol.

Extra virgin olive oil

Olive oil has been a main feature in many Mediterranean diets for quite some time, and is associated with a wide range of benefits, including improved heart health (via WebMD). So how can olive oil help prevent clogged arteries, exactly? 

For starters, olive oil contains a high amount of antioxidants, which can help prevent inflammation (per Healthline). These can also prevent the cholesterol in your blood from oxidizing, which can lead to clogged arteries. Specifically, it can improve the lining of your arteries and also prevent blood clotting. 

Dr. Benjamin Hirsh, director of preventive cardiology at Northwell Health's Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in Manhasset, New York, spoke to Healthline and discussed the benefits of olive oil for the heart. "Olive oil is a simple way to replace unhealthy, saturated, and trans-fatty acids of animal fats with a source of omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and improve cholesterol. It has also been associated with improved vascular function, heart health, and survival," he explained. Research suggests consuming half a tablespoon of olive oil a day can reduce your likelihood of cardiovascular disease by 15%.


This delicious fruit has more than just punches of flavor going for it — blueberries are also scientifically proven to be great for your heart health and blood flow. 

According to Everyday Health, studies have shown that blueberries in particular have been linked to improvements in cholesterol levels and arterial function in adults that have metabolic syndrome. One study that was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition divided subjects into three groups: those who consumed fresh blueberries, those who ingested blueberry powder, and those who consumed a placebo. For those who consumed blueberries, a host of benefits were found. 

Dr. Peter Curtis, lead study author and a senior research fellow in the department of nutrition and preventative medicine in Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia in England, told Everyday Health: "Our test showed that 1 cup of blueberries per day for six months generally improved the vascular environment by increasing the responsiveness of arteries to [produce] changes in blood flow, improving the flexibility of systemic arteries, and at the same time, increasing the concentration of good lipids and lipoproteins, like HDL, which removes potentially harmful fats form the bloodstream and arteries."


If you need to bulk up your breakfast of artery-strengthening blueberries, consider adding oats to the mix. You may remember seeing the heart healthy seal on your box of oats every morning, as oats have long been hailed as a grain that contributes to overall cardiovascular health (via Healthline). In many of the same ways oats contribute to heart health, they also contribute to the health of the arteries. 

According to Healthline, oats are a great dietary addition for those who already have atherosclerosis or for those who want to prevent it. One of the primary ways oats help is by reducing high levels of total and "bad" cholesterol, which as mentioned contribute to the buildup of plaque in the arteries. A study published by Scientific Reports corroborates this data, and found that in more than 700 patients with coronary artery disease, those who regularly consumed oat fiber had lower levels of "bad" cholesterol. 

Furthermore, oats contain avenanthramides, which is a type of antioxidant that can contribute to the reduction of inflammation and certain adhesion molecules that lead to atherosclerosis.

Fatty fish

Craving a nice cut of fatty salmon? Why not pair it with a generous drizzle of olive oil and do your arteries double the favor. 

Because of the popularity of the Mediterranean diet, many people are already aware that eating fish is good for the heart. According to Mayo Clinic, the Omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fatty fish such as salmon are what contributes to improved heart and artery health. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fat, which is a much healthier alternative to saturated fats, according to The American Heart Association. This is because saturated fats, which are typically found in foods such as beef and dairy, can contribute to higher levels of "bad" cholesterol, so replacing these types of fats with fatty fish such as salmon can help manage cholesterol levels.

In addition to being a good replacement for saturated fats, Omega-3 fatty acids can also reduce inflammation in the body, which can lead to damage in the arteries and can also lead to heart disease (per Mayo Clinic). Fish that are high in Omega-3 include salmon, sardines, canned, light tuna, and mackerel.


Adding legumes such as beans to your diet is another delicious way to improve or prevent clogged arteries. To clear up any potential confusion, beans are the fruit borne from the legume family of plants, which also produces peanuts, soybeans, and peas (via MedicineNet). 

According to EverydayHealth, legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils are all known to reduce blood pressure and improve heart health. One of the primary benefits of eating legumes is that they are rich in dietary fiber, which (per Healthline) is key in preventing atherosclerosis. Beans can help manage "bad" cholesterol levels and can also reduce blood pressure, improve the functioning of the arteries, and help prevent diabetes, all of which can contribute to clogged arteries. 

So how many beans do you need to eat to get these results, exactly? According to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, one serving of beans a day (130 grams) is enough to do the job.


Looking for a quick and easy snack to add to your list of artery-friendly foods? Head over to the nut aisle and start filling up your cart. 

While the types of nuts available may seem endless, some are better for the heart and the arteries than others. According to experts at EverydayHealth, almonds are at the top of the list when it comes to health benefits, and incorporating them into your diet can help lower "bad" cholesterol in what they call a "dose dependent" manner, meaning the more you eat, the more benefits you receive. As an added bonus, almonds can also lower inflammation, which can help prevent arterial damage. 

Walnuts are another safe bet, and can specifically help clear out your arteries with their high levels of alpha-linoleic acid. This specific acid is a type of unsaturated fat that acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, and is particulary known for its ability to reduce the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Furthermore, walnuts are also good for reducing cholesterol levels and improving the "function of the small arteries and vessels within our bodies," according to the site. Not bad.

Pomegranate juice

Pomegranate juice is known for its tart taste and high levels of antioxidants. Studies have also shown that it is specifically beneficial for reducing the hardening of arteries, according to WebMD

In a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists found that pomegranate juice was able to reduce damage to blood vessels and could potentially reverse atherosclerosis. The scientists tested human cells that lined blood vessels while exposing them to stress levels that might be similar to those who experience high blood pressure, splitting them between a group that was treated with pomegranate juice and one that was not. The blood cells that were treated with the pomegranate juice showed less stress than the ones that were not. 

Furthermore, the scientists orally administered pomegranate juice to mice who had atherosclerosis, and discovered that the juice significantly reduced the progression of the disease. Experts at WebMD explain that pomegranate juice helps the body produce nitric oxide, which is said to help "keep arteries open" and improve blood flow. While other juices such as blueberry, cranberries, and even red wine are known to be high in antioxidants, pomegranate juice reportedly tops the list.


Adding onions to your meals can bring an extra punch of flavor to bland dishes, and also do the added job of clearing out your arteries. 

According to Healthline, onions belong to a family of flowering plants called the Allium genus (which is also home to chives and garlic), and have been used for centuries as medicinal treatments. They offer a myriad of health benefits, and heart protection is one of them. Onions possess antioxidants, which can help manage inflammation as well as help lower "bad" cholesterol levels. One particular study published by the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology evaluated the effects of raw onion on overweight or obese women who had polycystic ovary syndrome. It found that when the women consumed large amounts of raw red onions (between 40 and 60 grams), there were significant reductions in "bad" cholesterol compared to those who did not eat the onions. 

Furthermore, another Healthline article reports that onions contain certain sulfur compounds that scientists have linked to a prevention in the inflammation of blood vessels and an increase in the production of nitric oxide in the blood.

Citrus fruits

Pour yourself a large glass of orange juice with breakfast or squeeze some more lemon in your water glass, because the benefits of citrus for your arteries has been scientifically proven. 

To start, according to a study published by the Journal of Epidemiology, citrus fruits contain a variety of components including carotenoids, flavonoids, potassium, and fiber, which are all known to contribute to the prevention of both hypertension and atherosclerosis. These components do this by preventing the oxidation of "bad" cholesterol, "preventing increases in homocysteine and platelet aggregation, and improving glucose intolerance." The study concluded that the consumption of citrus fruit was also linked to a reduction in the incidence of cardiovascular disease among both men and women. 

Furthermore, according to Healthline, as with many other foods on the list, citrus fruits also contribute to a reduction in inflammation, which can likewise lead to clogged arteries.