Atherosclerosis is a condition that develops when a substance called plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can stop the blood flow. This can cause a heart attack or
Atherosclerosis causes Coronary Heart Disease because of the plaque build up.
Plaque is made up of cholesterol, fat and other substances that narrow the arteries and reduce the amount of blood that can flow to your heart and other organs.
The real danger occurs when the plaque completely blocks an artery or a chunk of it breaks off and causes a clot that stops blood flow. If this happens near the heart, a heart attack occurs. If it happens near the brain, a stroke occurs.
By choosing a heart-healthy diet, you can reduce your chance of developing atherosclerosis , the blockage of arteries that eventually leads to heart disease.
Here are some diet tips that will help you maintain a healthy heart:
- Limit saturated fat and sugar. This will help reduce total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol , increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol, lower blood pressure , decrease your risk of developing diabetes , and help you maintain an appropriate weight. Choose non-fat or fat-free options whenever possible. For example, have baked potatoes instead of French fries, choose low-fat dressings, and skip the cheese on your burger. In addition, try to cook with oils that are low in saturated fat such as olive, canola, corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed, peanut, and sesame. Stay away from high saturated fat oils and shortenings, including palm and coconut.
- Avoid any food that contains hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. These are called “trans fat” and are extremely unhealthy. These are mainly found in pastries, piecrusts, biscuits, pizza dough, cookies, crackers, stick margarines, and shortening.
- Limit your salt intake.
- Don’t skip breakfast. People who eat a healthy breakfast tend to eat less during the rest of the day, have lower cholesterol, and are able to concentrate better at work and at home.
- Read food labels. Avoid high-calorie, high-fat, high-sodium snack foods or fast foods.
- Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. As they are high in vitamins and minerals.
- Eat out less often and have fewer packaged foods. Home-cooked meals tend to be lower in calories, salt, and fat than restaurant-cooked or packaged foods. Drink less alcohol. Drinking more than two drinks per day can raise blood pressure and increases your calorie intake, which, in turn, may increase your risk of developing heart disease.
- Eat slowly. Pay attention to how you feel, don’t have seconds unless you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full. Despite what your mother may have said, you do not always need to finish everything on your plate.