A reader asks, "How can I unclog my arteries or clean my arteries
And, "What are some good heart foods?"
First, stop doing the things that gave you atherosclerosis in the first place. In other words, your arteries didn't become clogged just by luck or chance, and hopefully you are already aware of this. They became clogged through a series of choices. These choices cover the foods you have chosen to eat over your lifetime and the level of exercise in which you have chosen to participate. So, before we get into the strategies and therapies that can reverse atherosclerois and unclog arteries, let's talk about stopping the clogging process in the first place.
There is a huge myth out there about what causes clogged arteries and heart disease. And the myth is a carryover from the 1980s when the big dietary enemy was fat. The entire nation, it seemed, was fleeing from fat, and at the same time running toward foods made with ridiculously large amounts of sugar. Fat was a big disease causer, doctors told us, and everybody was told to go on an extremely low-fat diet. Even the American Heart Association recommended that people at risk of heart disease or those who had already suffered a heart attack avoid practically all fat in their diet. Some people were told to go on 10 grams of fat a day or even less.
And here's the big mistake of it: all fats were lumped into the same group. So whether it was fat from fish oils or fat from beef lard, it was all considered to be the same fat, and it was all considered to be the enemy of human health. Of course today we know that the hysteria surrounding fat was just that -- nothing but poorly justified fear resulting from major mistakes by medical researchers, combined with a huge marketing push on the part of food producers who discovered that selling people sugar was a lot easier, and a lot more profitable, than selling fat.
So what does all of this have to do with stopping the clogging of your arteries? It's simple, actually. There are healthy, good fats that you must get into your diet if you wish to unclog your arteries. And today it is well known that those fats include omega-3 fatty acids, fish oils, and monounsaturated fats. Basically, the kind of fats you find in oily fish, nuts, seeds, and fruits like avocados (which is, yes, technically a fruit, not a vegetable).
The first practical thing, then, that you can do is switch from all the unhealthy fats in your diet to healthy fats. That means giving up all fried foods, because all fried fats are unhealthy fats containing alarming quantities of trans fatty acids. So give up your fried foods and switch to raw foods or baked foods. You should also give up cheap fats such as the low-cost vegetable oils found in the grocery store, and move to the more expensive fats, such as cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. This is one of the cases where extra money goes a long way in protecting your health. Getting healthy fats from fish oils is also quite expensive.
But let's talk now about a strategy that’s absolutely free and that will protect you from plaque buildup in your arteries. And this is perhaps even more important than getting good fats into your diet. It is avoiding hydrogenated oils and any foods made with hydrogenated oils. That's because hydrogenated oils are the number one cause of heart disease and a major contributor to neurological disorders in the United States and around the world. Hydrogenated oils are, simply put, poison in the human body. They accelerate the buildup of plaque in the arteries. And as a result, they bring on heart disease far more quickly than would happen normally.
Hydrogenated oils are artificially processed oils that never appear in nature. They are created by food producers for the convenience of food producers – primarily to add shelf life and consistency to foods so that those foods not only taste great, but can sit on the shelf for months at a time without going bad.
A lot of people think they know that hydrogenated oils are bad for them and they think they avoid those oils by not eating fried foods or other more obvious items. But here is where most people go wrong on this: hydrogenated oils are found in virtually every baked or fried and sometimes even frozen food product in the grocery store. Consider this: in every grocery store there is one aisle that has all the snack crackers. You know, it has the vegetable crackers and the wheat crackers, it also has the cookies. This entire aisle is so contaminated with hydrogenated oils that it should really be called the hydrogenated oil aisle.
There is virtually no food product in this entire aisle that does not contain hydrogenated oils. You have to go way down the aisle to the unpopular section -- often it's located near the kosher foods -- to find crackers such as Wasa Crackers, which are made without hydrogenated oils and are baked, not fried (at least in the U.S.). But practically everything else on that aisle contains hydrogenated oils. That means every snack chip, every cookie, every cracker, every pastry, and every baked good, whether it's sweet or not, is made with this dietary poison.
The thing is, then, most Americans are consuming massive quantities of hydrogenated oils without even really recognizing it because they're eating potato chips, nacho chips, and all sorts of other snack foods found in the hydrogenated oil aisle. As a result, they are getting atherosclerosis, or a built up of plaque in their arteries. And over time, of course, it leads to widespread cardiovascular disease. But more importantly, it can lead to strokes, heart attacks, and the need for heart bypass surgery, which will set you back at least six figures, if not more.
This is, then, perhaps the single most important thing you can do to prevent the buildup of plaque in your arteries. Avoid eating any food product made with hydrogenated oils.
Now how do you do that? It's simple. You start reading labels. It is impossible to be healthy in modern society if you don't make a habit of reading the food labels of every food you purchase and consume. Personally, I don't touch a food unless I've read the label and it meets my criteria of not containing a certain list of ingredients known as metabolic disruptors.
You must start reading ingredient labels, and what you're looking for here is either hydrogenated vegetable oil or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. It can also be called partially hydrogenated soybean oil or safflower oil. The name of the oil doesn't matter. What you're looking for is the word “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated.” If it has either one of those words, that food is poison. It will give you cardiovascular disease. It will harm your nervous system. It will shorten your lifespan, quite frankly. You need to put it back on the shelf, and in doing that, let these food manufacturers know that they can no longer sell you poison in a pretty box and call it food.
So those are the basic strategies of what you can do to avoid increasing the buildup of plaque in your arteries.
KAY’S NOTE: Better than reading labels is to just avoid all packaged and bottled foods. When following the SCD, you have the choice of choosing the healthiest fats, vegetables, fruits, etc.