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Arteriosclerosis Foods and Herbs and Diets

For healthy eating, eat a balanced diet supplemented by superfoods that contains the following:

  • Grains: 6 – 8 servings per day (half should be whole grains)
  • Vegetables: 3 – 5 servings per day
  • Fruits: 4 – 5 servings per day
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy: 2 – 3 servings per day
  • Lean meat, poultry, seafood: 3 – 6 oz. per day (about the size of a deck of cards)
  • Fats and oils: 2 – 3 tbsp. per day (use unsaturated fats such as olive oil or canola oil)
  • Nuts, seeds, legumes: 3 – 5 servings per week
  • Sweets, sugars: (the fewer not part of superfuits, the better)

In addition, the AHA also recommends eating 2 servings of fatty fish (such as salmon or lake trout) per week; holding sodium (salt, including salt already added to food) to less than 2,400 mg per day; and limiting alcohol intake to one drink a day for women and two for men.

Foods & Herbs that help treat arteriosclerosis:

  • Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna, 160 – 1,800 mg per day in two or three divided doses) — Hawthorn contains the polyphenols rutin and quercetin, and was used traditionally to treat cardiovascular diseases. Animal and laboratory studies show that hawthorn has antioxidant properties that help protect against the formation of plaques and may help lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Talk to your doctor before taking hawthorn, as it can interact with other drugs taken for heart disease and high blood pressure.
  • Garlic (Allium sativum, 900 mg per day of garlic powder, standardized to 0.6% allicin) — Some clinical trials have shown that fresh garlic and garlic supplements may lower cholesterol levels, prevent blood clots, and destroy plaque. However, other studies show mixed evidence, and one 2007 study showed no effect at all. Garlic can increase the risk of bleeding and should not be taken if you are also taking blood-thinning medication.
  • Olive leaf extract(Olea europaea, 1000 mg per day) — One study found that people with mild high blood pressure (hypertension) lowered cholesterol and blood pressure by taking olive leaf extract, compared to those who took placebo. More research is needed to confirm this study’s findings.
  • Red yeast or red yeast rice (Monascus purpureus, 1,200 mg two times per day with meals) — Several studies indicate that a proprietary form of red yeast (Cholestin) can lower cholesterol levels, and that the herb acts like the prescription drugs statins (See “Medications” section). For that reason, you should not take red yeast without a doctor’s supervision, especially if you already take statins to lower cholesterol.
  • Psyllium (Plantago psyllium, 10 – 30 g per day in divided doses taken 30 – 60 minutes after meals) — Taking psyllium, a type of fiber, helps lower cholesterol levels as well as blood sugar levels. If you take medicine for diabetes, talk to your doctor before taking psyllium.
  • Guggul (Commiphora mukul, 3 – 6 g per day) — Guggul is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat high cholesterol levels. Scientific studies have found mixed results — guggul appears to work in Indian populations, but not in people who eat Western-style, high-fat diets.
  • Alfalfa

Diets to help treat arteriosclerosis

Diets for People with High Blood Pressure

People with high blood pressure especially need to lower the amount of sodium in their diet. The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) emphasizes a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat or non-fat dairy products that provide high intake of potassium, magnesium, and calcium sources. Sodium intake should be between 1,500 – 2,400 mg per day (the lower, the better). Weight loss, regular physical activity, and limiting alcohol are also very important factors for lowering blood pressure.

Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean style diet concentrates on whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil, and moderate, daily wine consumption. The Mediterranean style diet is not low-fat. Instead, it is low in saturated fat but high in monounsaturated fat. It appears to be heart-healthy: In a long-term study of 423 patients who had a heart attack, those who followed a Mediterranean style diet had a 50 – 70% lower risk of recurrent heart disease compared with people who received no special dietary counseling.

The TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) Diet

This diet is recommended for people who have high cholesterol. With the TLC diet, less than 7% of your daily total calories should come from saturated fat, and only 25% -35% of your daily calories should come from fat, overall. Sodium should be limited to 2,400 mg per day. If these steps don’t lower your cholesterol, your doctor may suggest adding more soluble fiber to your diet, along with plant sterols (found in cholesterol-lowering margarines and salad dressings).

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