Upcoming Event:

Hack your health

View details

How to Clean Your Arteries - Naturally Prevent Blockage

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Clogged arteries, also known as atherosclerosis, are mainly caused by poor diet, smoking, stress, obesity, and lack of physical exercise.


Atherosclerosis can significantly increase your risk of heart disease and strokes. Fortunately, you can take plenty of steps to support healthy blood vessels and unclog your arteries.   


Let’s look deeper at the foods that can help clean your arteries and why a low-carb diet, regular exercise, and stress-reduction techniques are crucial for cardiovascular health. 

 Peripheral artery disease illustrationWhat causes blocked arteries?

Atherosclerosis is characterized by the formation of plaque inside arterial walls. This arterial plaque is typically caused by a buildup of calcium, cholesterol, and proteins which impairs the normal function of the endothelium—the innermost layer of cells that line the walls of blood vessels. 


Plaque stiffens and narrows artery walls, which reduces blood flow and interferes with the oxygen supply to vital organs and tissues. 


If left untreated, atherosclerosis can lead to coronary artery disease, significantly increasing the risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and stroke.


Several risk factors are linked to developing arterial plaque, including: 

  • High blood pressure

  • Imbalanced cholesterol levels

  • Smoking and vaping

  • Diabetes

  • Insulin resistance

  • Obesity

  • Family history of heart disease.


Watch the video below to learn how to unclog arteries naturally.


At what age should I be worried about blocked arteries?


While the risk of blocked arteries increases with age, it’s essential to understand that heart disease can start when you are a child


According to a study published in the Korean Circulation Journal by Young Hong, pediatric MD, “The existing evidence indicates that primary prevention of atherosclerotic disease should begin in childhood.” 


Your metabolic health, dietary choices, and lifestyle habits significantly impact cardiovascular health. 


A poor diet and lack of physical activity during childhood and adolescence can substantially increase your risk of clogged arteries and coronary heart disease later in life.  

CT scan

How to test for artery plaque


A coronary artery calcification (CAC) test is a non-invasive test performed using a computed tomography scanner to measure the amounts of calcium deposits in arterial walls. 


The presence of calcium buildup in coronary arteries is a reliable indicator of atherosclerotic plaque buildup and can be used to diagnose the severity of atherosclerosis. 


A CAC test is significantly more accurate in determining cardiovascular health than a cholesterol test, as blood cholesterol levels provide little indication of plaque development or arterial narrowing. 

Healthy blood vessel

Are there natural ways to clean your arteries? 


Most risk factors for arterial plaque formation are related to diet and lifestyle. As such, making beneficial dietary and lifestyle changes can prevent plaque buildup and even reduce the progression of plaque formation.


In fact, research published in Circulation found that adopting a nutritious low-carb diet improves metabolic health, may reverse arterial restriction, and increases blood flow.  


Here are natural ways to clean your arteries. 


Reduce stress

Stress has been found to be a major risk factor in the development of atherosclerosis.


During periods of stress, the adrenal glands release the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which increase heart rate, blood pressure, and inflammation. This can damage the epithelial lining of the arteries, making them more susceptible to plaque buildup.


In addition, cortisol impacts how your metabolism utilizes fats and sugars. Chronically elevated cortisol can cause insulin resistance, a metabolic disorder that leads to high blood sugar levels and an increase in the production of triglycerides, a type of fat linked to coronary artery disease.


Therefore, it's crucial to manage stress with restful sleep, exercise, and relaxation techniques such as nature walks and breathing exercises. 


Managing your stress can help reduce blood pressure, support heart muscle health, and make it easier to avoid stress eating and follow a heart-healthy diet plan.


Avoid unhealthy foods

A diet high in processed foods, refined carbs, and sugars significantly increases your risk of clogged arteries. 


Refined carbs and sugars spike blood sugar levels which trigger the release of large amounts of insulin. Insulin is a crucial metabolic hormone that influences how your body produces energy and stores fat.


Prolonged periods of elevated insulin can result in insulin resistance, a serious metabolic imbalance linked to an increased risk of arterial plaque formation. 


Insulin resistance increases inflammation in the arterial epithelium, promotes the production of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as the bad cholesterol linked to atherosclerosis, and triggers the release of hormones that can thicken the blood and increase the risk of clogged arteries. 


In addition, processed and fried foods often contain trans fats and other unhealthy fats that raise your bad cholesterol, such as corn, soy, canola, or cottonseed oils. These fats increase inflammation and are directly linked to arterial plaque. 


It’s important to avoid processed foods to reduce inflammation. This includes fast food, canned foods, snack foods, cereal (even with whole grains), and microwave dinners.

Keto foods and clock on a table

Healthy Keto® and intermittent fasting 

The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that primes your metabolism to burn fat instead of sugar to generate energy.


This causes profound metabolic changes that lower several risk factors of plaque formation, including insulin resistance, obesity, and imbalanced cholesterol levels.


You may have heard that a high-fat diet causes unhealthy cholesterol levels and increases the risk of heart disease. This is incorrect and based on outdated research that has long been revised.


A nutritious low-carb diet like Healthy Keto emphasizes grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish and game, and full-fat dairy rich in healthy unsaturated and saturated fats that increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL), known as good cholesterol. HDL also helps remove LDL from the bloodstream, which reduces plaque buildup in the arteries.


And, what’s more, the ketogenic diet is the best dietary pattern to promote balanced insulin levels, which can significantly lower the risk of insulin resistance and, as such, may help prevent clogged arteries.   


Combining Healthy Keto with intermittent fasting boosts keto’s cardiovascular benefits. Intermittent fasting is a mealtime schedule that switches between periods of fasting and periods of eating.


During fasting, your metabolism is forced to use stored body fat as an energy source which supports rapid weight loss and helps to maintain a healthy weight. 


“Maintaining a healthy weight is important to promote a healthy cardiovascular system and lower your risk of clogged arteries,” says Dr. Berg. 


Exercise 

Exercise helps to lower the risk of arterial plaque in several ways. 


Regular physical activity helps to increase HDL cholesterol and improves insulin sensitivity, which is linked to healthy blood vessels and a lower risk of atherosclerosis. 


To promote cardiovascular health, it’s best to combine muscle-strengthening activities with moderate-intensity exercise such as walking, swimming, cycling, or hiking. 

Green leafy vegetable salad and garlic

Six foods that clean your arteries


Eating a nutritious and healthy diet plays a fundamental role in maintaining the normal function of blood vessels and can prevent the development of atherosclerosis. 


In addition, some specific foods contain vitamins, minerals, and other heart-healthy compounds that have anti-atherosclerotic effects and may help unclog arteries. 


Here are six foods that you should eat regularly.


1. Green leafy vegetables

Green leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, spinach, arugula, and bok choy are rich in nitrate, an organic compound that's converted into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is needed to dilate blood vessels, which improves blood flow and reduces the risk of plaque buildup.


In addition, green leafy veggies, and most other vegetables, are rich sources of potassium, an essential mineral for cardiovascular health. Potassium controls vascular calcification and has been found to lower the risk of atherosclerosis by keeping arteries soft and flexible, which reduces arterial calcification.


2. Oily fish 

Fatty fish, including salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines, are rich sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. 


Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fats that have cardioprotective properties by reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and improving the function of the endothelium, thereby decreasing the risk of arterial plaque. 

Natto

3. Natto 

Natto is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans and a rich source of the enzyme nattokinase. 


Nattokinase has potent anti-atherosclerotic properties by breaking down fibrin, a protein responsible for blood clots that can contribute to the formation of arterial plaque. 


In fact, a study published in the Chinese Medical Journal found that nattokinase doesn’t just lower the risk of atherosclerosis but also helps reduce and dissolve existing arterial plaque. 


4. Pomegranates

Pomegranates are rich in nitrites and contain potent antioxidants that protect against oxidative stress and inflammation—two critical factors in the development of arterial plaque.


5. Garlic 

Garlic has impressive cardiovascular health benefits because it’s rich in phytochemicals with anti-inflammatory properties. 


Garlic also supports balanced cholesterol levels and has potent antiplatelet effects that prevent blood cells from sticking together and forming blood clots, a significant risk factor for clogged arteries.

  

6. Nuts and seeds 

Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, and pumpkin seeds, are rich sources of vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin that has been extensively studied for its potential to reverse atherosclerosis


Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that reduces the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Oxidized LDL is commonly found in arterial plaque and significantly contributes to the narrowing and stiffening of arteries. 

Man suffering a heart attack

Complications of clogged arteries


Clogged arteries can cause impaired cardiovascular functioning and lead to serious health complications.   


Atherosclerosis increases the risk of several health issues, including:

  • Coronary and peripheral heart disease

  • Cardiac arrest 

  • Strokes

  • Aneurysms

  • Kidney disease 

  • Vascular inflammation

  • Elevated blood pressure (hypertension)

  • Erectile dysfunction    


Atherosclerosis is a serious medical condition, and it’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider if you have concerns about your cardiovascular health. 


Conventional treatment for atherosclerosis typically includes diet and lifestyle changes, weight loss, and cholesterol-lowering medication. 


In some severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove or bypass arterial restrictions to mitigate heart disease risk, increase blood flow, and lower blood pressure.

Stages of atherosclerosis

How long does it take to clean your arteries?


How long it takes to clean your arteries depends on several factors, including the extent of plaque buildup, your metabolic health, and how disciplined you are in making beneficial dietary and lifestyle changes. 


A low-carb diet, intermittent fasting, regular exercise, and stress management help to reduce plaque buildup and benefit cardiovascular health. However, it may take several months or even years of sustained effort to see significant improvements in arterial health.


It’s recommended to perform a CAC test once or twice yearly to track progress and determine how successful dietary and lifestyle changes are in clearing clogged arteries.  

Keto foods

Key takeaways


Clogged arteries can have serious complications and increase the risk of strokes, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular issues.


To support the health of blood vessels, it’s crucial to limit carbs and sugars and follow a nutritious ketogenic diet such as Healthy Keto in combination with intermittent fasting. 


Physical activity, stress reduction, and regularly consuming foods with anti-atherosclerotic properties such as natto, seeds and nuts, garlic, oily fish, pomegranate, and green leafy vegetables help to lower the risk of clogged arteries and may dissolve existing plaque.


 

FAQ


1. What causes artery plaque?

Arterial plaque is caused by a buildup of calcium, proteins, and fatty deposits in the arterial wall. This causes stiff and narrow arteries, which can reduce blood flow and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems.


High blood pressure, elevated LDL cholesterol, smoking, obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes are significant risk factors for arterial plaque formation.

 

2. When do arteries start clogging?

Arterial plaque buildup can start as early as childhood or adolescence. 


3. Can you reverse plaque buildup in your arteries?

Yes, it’s possible to reverse plaque buildup. Following a nutrient-rich ketogenic diet such as Healthy Keto in combination with intermittent fasting, maintaining healthy body weight, regularly exercising, and consuming foods that support cardiovascular health may reverse clogged arteries.  


4. How do you flush plaque out of your arteries naturally?

A healthy lifestyle and maintaining balanced insulin levels by following a low-carb diet in combination with intermittent fasting is crucial to unblock clogged arteries. 


In addition, it’s essential to exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and regularly consume foods such as seeds and nuts, natto, oily fish, garlic, pomegranate, and green leafy vegetables. These foods contain anti-atherosclerotic nutrients that can help to dissolve plaque and flush out arteries.  


5. What can dissolve artery plaque in a blocked artery?

Natto, a Japanese food made from fermented soybeans, has been found particularly effective in reversing atherosclerosis. 


Natto contains nattokinase, an enzyme that breaks down the protein fibrin involved in blood clot formation and the development of arterial plaque.   


6. What are the best foods to clean your arteries?

Several foods contain vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that help lower the risk of plaque formation. Green leafy vegetables, natto, seeds, nuts, oily fish, olive oil, garlic, and pomegranate have several cardiovascular benefits that may help to clean arteries. Make sure you have a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods too!


7. Can intermittent fasting help unclog arteries?

Yes, intermittent fasting is an excellent choice to support the health of your arteries. Fasting promotes balanced insulin levels and lowers inflammation and harmful sdLDL-C cholesterol while, at the same time, raising heart-healthy HDL cholesterol.


8. How long does it take to clean a blocked artery?

How long it takes to clean your arteries depends on the severity of the arterial plaque buildup, your metabolic health, and your body weight. While some people see noticeable improvements after a few months, others may need a year of sustained effort to see improvements in arterial health.


9. How do I test for clogged arteries? 

The most reliable test for clogged arteries is the coronary artery calcium (CAC) test. This non-invasive scan measures how much calcium buildup is present in the arterial wall, which is directly linked to arterial plaque severity.  


10. What is the fastest way to reduce artery plaque?

The fastest way to reduce artery plaque and unclog your arteries is to follow a nutritious low-carb diet like Healthy Keto in combination with intermittent fasting, physical exercise, stress reduction, and healthy body weight. It’s also important to regularly consume heart-healthy foods such as natto, garlic, nuts and seeds, oily fish, olive oil, pomegranate, and green leafy vegetables to unclog arteries naturally.

Healthy Keto Guide for Beginner

FREE Keto Diet Plan