Atherosclerosis is the buildup of plaques in and on the walls of arteries. Plaque is a combination of fats, cholesterol, and other substances. The buildup of plaque on artery walls constricts the flow of blood through those arteries and can even block them leading to heart attack. Treatments include medications and surgeries like angioplasty, coronary bypass, and stents. Fortunately, atherosclerosis self-care can manage the condition and even reverse it with simple diet changes and exercise.

In the following excerpt from Secret Food Cures Joan Wilen and Lydia Wilen provide true and time-tested atherosclerosis self-care advice that can help manage the disease and lead to a longer, healthier life.


Atherosclerosis is clogging of the arteries that is caused by deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol, calcium, and other matter. This build-up is called plaque, and it develops over many years from poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle and smoking. It’s important that you work with your doctor to treat this condition. Be sure to consult him/her before trying any natural remedies.

If you are developing atherosclerosis, do something to protect your arteries against the negative effects of improper diet, lack of exercise and bad habits (such as smoking). These remedies may help…

Natural Remedies

• Eating a few cloves of garlic each day has been known to help clear arteries. It seems to cleanse the system and collect and cast out toxic waste.

Mince two cloves and put them in a half glass of orange juice or water and drink it down. There’s no need to chew the pieces of garlic. By just swallowing them, the garlic smell doesn’t stay on your breath.

In conjunction with a sensible diet, garlic can also help bring down cholesterol levels in the blood. No wonder this beautiful bulb has a fan club, appropriately called “Lovers of the Stinking Rose.”

• Rutin is one of the elements of the bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids (substances from plants that help maintain cellular health) are necessary for the proper absorption of vitamin C. Taking 500 mg of rutin daily, with at least the same amount of vitamin C, is said to increase the strength of capillaries, strengthen the artery walls, help prevent hemorrhaging and help treat atherosclerosis.

• According to French folklore, eating rye bread made with baker’s yeast supposedly prevents clogging of the arteries.

• It is reported that some Russians eat mature, raw potatoes at every meal to prevent atherosclerosis.

• Drinking a combination of apple cider boiled with garlic once a day is a Slavic folk remedy. This may not prevent atherosclerosis, but it certainly tastes like it should.

High Cholesterol Remedies

The US government recently changed the guidelines for what is considered a dangerous level of cholesterol. Previous levels were a maximum of 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/ dL) of low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol, and the new recommendation is to have LDLs no higher than 70 mg/dL.

These guidelines are meant for very high-risk people who have heart disease, plus diabetes, high blood pressure and smoke cigarettes. But even people with moderately high risk (for example, those who have already had a heart attack) should keep their LDL levels well below 100 mg/dL.

NOTE: Talk to your doctor about any dietary changes you make

There have been a variety of cholesterol studies conducted over different periods of time with any number of test subjects. Some of the results are impressive, and all the cholesterol-lowering foods are worth a try.

First—and most important—is to get that heart-smart diet in place and incorporate the foods that have been shown to help.

According to the studies…

◆ Eating half an avocado every day may lower cholesterol by 8% to 42%. Yes, avocados are high in fat, but it’s monounsaturated fat that does good things for the system. An avocado also contains essential minerals, including iron, copper, and magnesium, and is rich in potassium. It tastes great, too.

◆ Eating two large apples a day may cause cholesterol levels to drop 16%. Apples are rich in flavonoids and pectin, which may form a gel in the stomach that keeps fats in food from being totally absorbed.

◆ Eating two raw carrots a day reduced cholesterol levels by 11%.

◆ People who consumed about ¾ cup of fenugreek daily for 20 days cut their LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels by 33%. Their HDL (“good” cholesterol) stayed the same. Instead of eating tablespoons of ground fenugreek seeds, choose capsules (580 mg), which are available at health food stores. Take one or two with each meal.

◆ Eating four cloves of garlic a day can cut total cholesterol by about 7%. (While fresh garlic is best, garlic supplements are fine.)

◆ Men and women who started out with low blood levels of vitamin C and then took 1,000 mg of vitamin C every day for eight months had a 7% increase of their HDL (good cholesterol) readings.

◆ Kiwi has what it takes to help keep cholesterol down—magnesium, potassium, and fiber. It makes a satisfying, energy-boosting afternoon snack.

◆ Omega-3 fatty acids have the uncanny ability to break down cholesterol in the lining of blood vessels and serve as a solvent for saturated fats in the diet. The result is less cholesterol in the body and bloodstream, and a reduced likelihood of cholesterol/heart disease complications in the future. Omega-3s are healthy polyunsaturated fats found in many foods, including salmon, mackerel, and other fatty fish. Flaxseed oil offers the most cost-effective and beneficial method for increasing the intake of omega-3 oils in the diet.

• Ray C. Wunderlich, Jr., MD, PhD, former director of the Wunderlich Center for Nutritional Medicine in St. Petersburg, Florida, recommended grape seed oil (available at health food stores) as a reliable increaser of HDL (good cholesterol). Follow the dosage on the label.

• Impressive test results build a good case for the effectiveness of lecithin in lowering LDL levels and raising HDL levels. Dose: Take one to two tablespoons of lecithin granules daily, available at health food stores.

• The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition mentions that raw carrots not only improve digestive elimination because of their high fiber content but may also lower cholesterol. Test subjects who ate two carrots for breakfast for three weeks reduced their serum cholesterol level by 11%. You may want to scrub the carrots you eat instead of peeling them. The peel is rich in B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin). If you can get organically grown carrots, do so.

• It seems that very small amounts of chromium are vital for good health. A deficiency in chromium may be linked to coronary artery disease. Take one to two tablespoons of brewer’s yeast daily (be sure to read labels and select the brewer’s yeast with the highest chromium content) or a handful of raw sunflower seeds. Chromium, like the lecithin, is said to lower the LDL cholesterol level and raise the HDL cholesterol level. If you plan on doing this, get your doctor’s approval.

• The results of one study conducted at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, showed that oats can bring down blood cholesterol levels. You can reap this benefit by eating oatmeal or any other form of oats two or three times a week. (See recipe below.)


Banana Bread Oatmeal

3 cups fat-free milk

3 Tbsp firmly packed brown sugar

3 ⁄4 tsp ground cinnamon 1 ⁄4 tsp salt (optional)

1 ⁄4 tsp ground nutmeg 2 cups quick or old-fashioned oats, uncooked

2 medium-size ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)

2 to 3 Tbsp coarsely chopped toasted pecans*

Vanilla nonfat yogurt (optional)

Banana slices (optional)

Pecan halves (optional)

In medium saucepan, bring milk, brown sugar, spices, and salt to a gentle boil (watch carefully); stir in oats. Return to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Cook one minute for quick oats, five minutes for old-fashioned oats, or until most of liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally.

Remove oatmeal from heat. Stir in mashed bananas and pecans. Spoon oatmeal into four cereal bowls. Top with yogurt, sliced bananas and pecan halves, if desired. Makes four servings.

*To toast pecans, spread evenly in shallow baking pan. Bake at 350° F for five to seven minutes or until light golden brown. Or, spread nuts evenly on microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high for one minute, then stir. Continue to microwave, checking every 30 seconds, until nuts are fragrant and brown.


According to James W. Anderson, MD, professor of internal medicine at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in Lexington, “Including a cup of beans in your diet per day helps to stabilize blood sugars and lower cholesterol.” This benefit can be attributed to dry beans, such as navy or pinto, rather than green beans.

• Scott Grundy, MD, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, says that research shows that monounsaturated fatty acid, found in olive oil and peanut oil, is more effective in reducing artery-clogging cholesterol levels than polyunsaturated fats, such as corn oil and sunflower oil.

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