Foods That Clog Your Arteries --- Top
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Last updated August 5, 2016 (originally published January 22, 2013)
By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Foods That Clog Your Arteries -Top 10

You may not immediately see the link between your blood and
the burgers you eat, or the bags of chips you consume and your
blood vessels, but the food you eat has a big impact on your
arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood
all around the body from your brain to your big toe. Blood flows
easily through smoothly lined arteries but if your arteries are
clogged the blood flow is reduced or stopped altogether.

Clogged arteries are the result of a buildup of plaque, which is
often due to the food you eat. Which are the worst artery
cloggers in your store cupboard? Which food items are most
likely to clog your arteries and affect your blood flow?

What Causes Clogged Arteries?

Plaque is made up of different substances in your blood like fat,
cholesterol, calcium and cellular waste.

When plaque builds up on your artery walls, the cells in the
artery respond by secreting a substance that further clogs your
blood vessels, leading to a condition called atherosclerosis.
Around one in every 58 people in the United States has
atherosclerosis, according to the National Health Interview
Survey, 1995.

Which arteries are most affected?  The 3 arteries which are most
affected by plaque build-up are coronary arteries, cerebral
arteries, and femoral artery, according to 2011 report from
Indiana University.

Experts don’t fully know for sure why plaque starts to build up
inside the arteries but the condition is likely to result from
damage to the artery wall. This damage may be caused by high
levels of bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and low levels of
good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) in the blood.

High levels of bad cholesterol are often caused by eating foods
high in saturated fat and trans fat – when you eat foods high in
saturated fat it is broken down into LDL cholesterol. Cholesterol
sticks to the artery walls and over time clogs the arteries.

What Are the Dangers of Clogged Arteries?

Clogged arteries put you at greater risk of heart attack and
stroke. When the arterial plaque builds up in the arteries
carrying blood to your heart it leads to coronary artery disease
or heart disease.

If plaque builds up in the carotid arteries that run up your neck
it can cut the supply of oxygen to your brain.

And if the arteries that carry blood to your legs are clogged, you
can develop peripheral artery disease. Because the dangers of
clogged arteries are severe, experts recommend strategies to
reduce your intake of trans and saturated fats.

The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends less
than 7 percent of your total calories come from saturated fat -
16 grams a day if you’re eating 2,000 calories. The American
Heart Association recommends limiting trans fats to less than 1
percent of your total daily calories – that’s less than 2 grams a
day of trans fats.  

[Editors' note:

That 2 grams of fat equals about half a teaspoon.  Take a step
back and ask yourself "am I eating more than half a teaspoon of
butter or lard or animal fat?" If the answer is "yes", you're
harming your arteries.]

Take a look at the following foods that are high in cholesterol,
trans fat or saturated fat and which contribute to dangerously
clogged arteries.

Top 10 Foods That Clog Your Arteries

1. Egg Yolks Can Clog Your Arteries

Egg yolks are one of the worst foods in terms of clogged
arteries. Eating egg yolks may accelerate plaque buildup and
clog your arteries in a similar way to smoking cigarettes,
according to a 2012 study from Western University, Canada.

After looking at 1,200 patients researchers found that eating
egg yolks was two-thirds as bad as smoking when it came to
clogging the arteries with plaque.

How many eggs should you allow yourself to eat each week? No
more than two.  Experts also found that eating three or more
egg yolks a week was associated with significantly more artery
clogging than eating two yolks or less. Egg yolks have a high
cholesterol content and are high in saturated fat (10 grams per
egg), both of which contribute to clogged arteries.

Does Alcohol Clog Your Arteries or Not?

Drinking a large amount of alcohol can elevate your blood
pressure and cause hypertension, plus raise your blood
cholesterol levels, putting you at increased risk of clogged
arteries and heart problems. But before you pour the liquor
down the sink, consider the results from a 2011 study from
University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester.

This study on mice showed that there was a big difference
between the artery effects of alcohol taken moderately on a daily
basis and the same total amount of alcohol consumed on two
days of the week – binge drinking.

The binge drinking mice showed greater plaque development,
which leads to clogged arteries, than those that drank the same
amount of alcohol in moderation.

Salt is a Top Artery Clogger

A diet high in salt accelerates the process of plaque buildup and
contributes to
high blood pressure, clogged arteries and heart
problems. A 2009 study from The Sahlgrenska Academy,
Göteborg University, Sweden showed a high salt diet increased
atherosclerosis in mice. We tend to eat too much salt on a daily
basis so try to avoid processed and packaged foods, and add
herbs and spices to your meals instead of table salt to protect
your arteries. (Read more about
how much is too much salt.)

Meat: An Artery Clogging Food

Not all saturated fats are equal, according to experts, and meat
fats are more likely to result in clogged arteries than fats from
dairy sources. This is according to a 2012 study by The
University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston which
looked at 5,000 participants. Substituting two percent of energy
from meat fats with energy from dairy fats resulted in a 25
percent lower risk of clogged arteries and cardiovascular
disease, according to the researchers.

Stop Spreading Margarine to Unclog your Arteries

Margarine is full of trans fats and saturated fats, prime artery
cloggers (stick margarine contains 2.8 grams of trans fat per
tablespoon, and 2.1 grams of saturated fat). Other non-butter
spreads as well as shortening can also have a bad effect on your

Try to avoid stick margarine on bread or use a small amount of
soft-tub margarine, which contain lower levels of trans fat. A
1997 study from Wageningen Agricultural University, The
Netherlands showed that replacing butter with low-trans fat soft
margarines favorably affected cholesterol levels and helped cut
down on plaque buildup in the arteries.

Fast Food Clogs Your Arteries

It may come as no surprise to learn that fast food is one of the
biggest culprits when it comes to clogged arteries. Fries,
pancakes, chicken, pies and other fast food choices are high in
trans fat and cholesterol.

A 2009 study from the National Center for Chronic Disease
Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention showed fast food consumption was linked with
proximity to neighborhood fast food providers which in turn was
linked with higher rates of  atherosclerosis  and a poorer diet

Walk away from the KFC, cut down on your fast food orders,
skip the fries and order smaller portions to help protect your

Breakfast Artery Cloggers

While chowing down on a cereal bar or energy bar because you
don’t have time to cook oatmeal may seem harmless, these
breakfast foods contain trans fat and can assist in clogging your
arteries – even the ones that claim to be healthy.

Fast food breakfasts also increase the risk of atherosclerosis ,
according to a 2008 study from the Laboratory for
Atherosclerosis and Metabolic Research, UC Davis Medical
Center, Sacramento. Switch to whole-wheat toast or cereals low
in fat.

Bacon, Sausages and Processed Meat Clog Arteries

Bacon, sausages, hot dogs, bologna, pepperoni slices and other
processed meats are high in saturated fat.

And just one meal that’s high in saturated fat can reduce the
ability of the good cholesterol in your body to protect the
arteries from clogging, according to a 2006 study from The
Heart Research Institute in Sydney, Australia. However, eating a
meal high in polyunsaturated fat can help HDL cholesterol
("good cholesterol") to protect the arteries from clogging.
(Read more about
foods that raise HDL, good cholesterol.)

Cookies and Cakes Aren’t Your Arteries Friends

Cookies and cakes contain high levels of both saturated fat and
trans fat, especially those you buy from the store ready-made.
The results of a 2012 study from Columbia University Medical
Center show that diets high in saturated fats increase levels of a
substance linked to atherosclerosis, while eating a diet high in
omega-3 polyunsaturated fats reduce levels of the same
substance. If you must eat cakes and cookies, bake them
yourself and cut out some of the fat, or use non-fat substitutes.

Foods High in Phosphate Can Cause Clogged Arteries

According to a 2008 study by the University of Minnesota adults
with higher levels of phosphate in their blood are more likely to
have high levels of calcium in their arteries, a key indicator of
clogged arteries and atherosclerosis.

A person’s phosphate level reflects the levels of the mineral
phosphorus, which helps in bone metabolism. Foods high in
phosphate include processed meals like frozen pizzas, cookies,
deli meat, hot dogs, processed cheese, plus high protein foods
and foods that are high in sugar.

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Cheeseburgers and fries are high in saturated fat that clogs your arteries.
cheeseburger and fries