Atherosclerosis is a diet-related condition featuring the hardening/clogging of the arteries by atheroma. Derived from the Greek word for porridge, atheroma is a fatty deposit which gradually builds up on the walls of our arteries, including our coronary arteries, as a result of high LDL and/or low HDL cholesterol levels, combined with a diet high in saturated or trans fats. Atherosclerosis is a predictor for heart attack, and stroke, as well as vascular circulatory disorders in the limbs, such as lower limb ischemia.
Atherosclerosis: Age-Related and Diet-Related
Although atherosclerotic heart disease gradually takes hold as we age, the condition is accelerated among smokers and those whose diets include excessive amounts of saturates and trans-fatty acids. Therefore, any diet aimed at slowing down the development of atherosclerosis should be low in total fat – especially saturated fat – and low in dietary cholesterol. It should be combined with regular cardio-aerobic exercise.
Guide to Diet For Atherosclerosis
Here is some basic eating advice to slow down atherosclerosis by dietary means:
- Increase your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables for their antioxidant properties. Citrus fruit, broccoli, spinch, carrots, peppers, garlic, leeks and onions are especially beneficial.
- Eat more oily fish. Species such as mackerel, salmon and herring are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which improve cholesterol levels as well as the elasticity of the arteries.
- Eat more oats, apples and beans for their soluble fiber which helps to lower cholesterol intake.
- Avoid all offal, reduce your intake of red meat, and switch to lean skinless chicken/turkey or fish. Red meat, unless ultra-lean and trimmed, may be high in saturates.
- When purchasing margarine, oil, or baked/processed goods, check food labels and choose foods low in trans-fats, hydrogenated or saturated fat, and low in sodium.
- Limit your intake of eggs to 3-4 per week. Eggs are high in dietary cholesterol.
- Reduce your intake of alcohol to moderate levels. Meaning one drink per day for women, or two for men. One drink is 12 fl oz of beer, a glass of wine or one measure of spirits.