Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising and eating well can help prevent plaque buildup in your arteries. Atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in your arteries causing them to harden and narrow, develops slowly over several years.
Your chances of developing atherosclerosis depend on several different risk factors. Some of them cannot be changed, such as your age and your personal and family medical history. But other factors that influence the onset of atherosclerosis are partially or totally within your control. These are mainly your eating habits, the amount of exercise you do and your tobacco consumption.
Some risk factors for atherosclerosis are measured values that cannot be changes on their own, such as body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels. But there are steps you can take to reduce these risks, whether it’s leading an active and healthy lifestyle or taking the medications prescribed by your doctor. It is important to take all possible steps to reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis, as complications of this disease can include life-threatening medical emergencies such as stroke or heart attack.
4 tips to prevent atherosclerosis
1 Quit smoking
If you smoke, quitting smoking is the most important step you can take to reduce your risk of atherosclerosis and other risk factors for heart disease. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death and disease. One of the main fatal consequences of smoking is the deterioration of blood vessels. Cigarette smoke contains a number of toxic chemicals that enter your bloodstream. These chemicals increase your risk of atherosclerosis in several different ways, including increasing inflammation in your arteries and making platelets in your blood clot more easily. If you smoke or use tobacco in any other form, ask your doctor for an effective quitting strategy.
2 Eat a heart-healthy diet
Your diet is a particularly important factor in your risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease in general. A heart-healthy diet includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats and poultry, low-fat dairy products, nuts, seeds, and legumes (dried beans and peas). It also limits the intake of sodium, saturated and trans fats, refined carbohydrates and alcohol.
The following food groups and foods form the basis of a healthy diet for the core:
Good choices include fresh and frozen varieties of almost any vegetable, making sure particularly to obtain a variety of colors and textures.
It is however important to limit vegetables in creamy sauce, vegetables canned foods with high sodium content and those that are fried or breaded.
Fresh or frozen, as well as those canned or preserved in juice or water, are good choices. Avoid canned fruit in high sugar syrup and frozen fruit with added sugar.
Whole grains should form the basis of your cereal intake. Here are some good choices:
– Bread made from whole grains
– Cereals rich in fibres
– Pasta made from whole grains
– Brown rice
Avoid or limit the following foods:
– White bread