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Its a matter of the heart

health and fitness Updated: Apr 10, 2011 18:38 IST
Dr Anjali Mukerjee
Dr Anjali Mukerjee
Hindustan Times
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Before finding ways to unclog your arteries, it is important to know how they become clogged in the first place. Arteries get clogged when plaque builds up along the artery walls. Plaque is made of cholesterol, fat, calcium, inflammatory cells, waste material, protein and fibrin, which float around the body. These plaques restrict blood flow and cause arteries to rupture and lead to blood clots, which then blocks blood flow and leads to heart attack and stroke.

Symptons of clogged arteries are quite mild and unnoticeable. You may experience lack of energy, pain in legs or arms and some memory problems. The food we eat daily is a major factor in the health of our heart and arteries. Too much saturated fat, hydrogenated fats, processed foods, sugar and minimum intake of antioxidants, coupled with poor stress management, late nights and no exercise lead to the development of heart disease and clogged arteries. Keeping arteries clean is important for heart and overall health.

Food to keep arteries clean and unclogged


Eating garlic regularly reduces harmful cholesterol by 10 per cent and prevents formation of blood clots. Eating one to four cloves a day provides 4,000 mcg of allicin, which reduces cholesterol. It can be eaten raw or cooked.


They are rich in clot-bursting omega 3 fats and help decrease inflammation in arteries caused by eating high fat foods. Walnuts help to maintain the elasticity of arteries, thereby allowing them to expand, contract, reduce clog and improve circulation. Eat three to four walnuts every day to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and to raise good cholesterol (HDL) levels.


It cleans the arteries, improves blood circulation and digestion. Eat one pomegranate and you will get 40 per cent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. Drinking pomegranate juice protects you from heart problems, ageing, arthritis and also helps in maintaining a smooth and healthy skin.

Olive oil Olive Oil:

It’s the richest source of MUFA which are heart-friendly oils. They prevent oxidation of bad cholesterol (LDL which is responsible for clogging your arteries).


It is full of vitamins A and C, (which helps prevent oxidation of bad cholesterol). It checks the clogging of arteries and helps to release plaque lining the arteries.


It improves blood circulation, remove blockages from clogged arteries and dissolves blood clots.

How to unclog arteries:

Crush garlic and cook it lightly with tomatoes in a teaspoon of olive or groundnut oil. Spread the paste on a slice of whole wheat bread or a whole wheat


(oil-free) and have it for breakfast along with a glass of vegetable juice made from half a raw onion, two carrots and two tomatoes.

Eat half an onion with each meal. This helps to keep the blood thin.

Garam masala

used in Indian cooking, discourages blood platelet clumping. Cloves and cumin seed powder used in it promote anti-clotting activity.

Increase dietary fibre by eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, oatmeal. Avoid junk, non-vegetarian food and highly processed foods. Foods with plant sterols like brown rice, whole wheat, nuts, pumpkin seeds, vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and tomato are very beneficial.

Increased stress affects hormone levels and leads to clogged arteries. Yoga and meditation reduce stress.

Regular exercise helps to reduce bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol, which decreases plaque formation inside the arteries.

Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre.