Atherosclerosis is a disease of the body’s arteries. When plaques from fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances build up in our arteries, which carry oxygenated blood to the heart and other parts of the body, the pathways to vital organs become narrow or blocked – this is known as Atherosclerosis. Just as plaque build up on our teeth can lead to the gum disease gingivitis, plaque build up in our arteries can lead to atherosclerosis, but with our teeth we can usually see if there is a build up of plaque just by looking in the mirror. We cannot, however, see the inside of our arteries without the help of specialized imaging devices; therefore we generally have to monitor our arterial health based on our blood pressure readings and lab results. Because we cannot easily see our arteries and we don’t have our vital signs read on a daily basis, it is important to do as much as we can to prevent the disease Atherosclerosis. Although, there is a small chance of an individual developing Atherosclerosis due to their genes, many risk factors for the disease are controllable, including: smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and controlling diabetes.
Atherosclerosis is also known as “hardening of the arteries” and can lead to many complications, including: coronary artery disease, abnormal heart rhythms, chest pain, heart attack, peripheral artery disease, kidney failure, stroke, or an aneurysm.
One of the best things a person can do to prevent Atherosclerosis is to eat a healthy diet and create life-long healthy eating habits. Diets that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol create more plaque, which increases the chances of build up in the walls of your body’s arteries. Animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, milk and dairy products are high in saturated fats. High amounts of salt and sugar should also be avoided. Avoid processed foods and frozen meals, instead choose fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and unsaturated fats. Minimizing portion sizes of meats, fish, and other animal and dairy products, and selecting lean choices of these when possible, is also a great way to improve your diet. Do not cut out fat from the diet entirely, research indicates that people actually benefit from including unsaturated fats in their diets.
Healthy diets can be even more effective when they are combined with supplements and vitamins. One should always check with a doctor before starting on any vitamins or minerals and be sure nothing you are taking interacts with any of your prescription medications. Folic acid and B vitamins may help decrease your risk for Atherosclerosis by breaking down the amino acid known as homocysteine, which is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Omega-3 fatty acids are believed to prevent and treat plaque build up in the arteries. Beta-sitosterol is a plant derived...