Our circulatory system has three blood vessels. The first one carries unoxygenated blood into the heart for oxygenation of the lungs. The second one is the arteries, which carries already oxygenated blood from the heart into the various parts of the body, including the heart. The third one, of course, is the capillaries, which functions at the end part of the organ, where arteries and veins meet.
While all blood vessels are necessary, the arteries are mostly given much importance because of its function to carry oxygenated blood and nutrients into the tissues. Arteries are composed of three layers which are strong enough to handle the pressure to pump blood away from the center of the body. How the heart moves is opposite to the artery. When the heart contracts, the artery relaxes; when the heart relaxes, the artery contracts. The largest artery is the aorta. Maintaining its health and all the other arteries in the body is important. If the arteries are diseased, other parts of the body is also affected. If the arteries are clogged, blood cannot pass through it, which will cause several diseases since the other organs are already being deprived of the necessary nutrients and the precious oxygen.
We do not want to develop problematic arteries; that is why, it is important to protect the arteries from anything that will cause these problems. The most essential thing to do therefore is to keep a healthy diet and maintain healthy lifestyle. Another is to increase consumption of the following fruits and vegetables which are found out to be contributing significantly to arterial health:
There are many proofs showing that cherries are excellent in protecting the health of the arteries. First, cherries strengthen collagen of the tissues. The walls of the arteries are composed of collagen and elastin, substances that keeps the cells flexible and strong. Second, cherries are rich in antioxidants. In an article published in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, cherries are found out to be rich in anthocyanin. Not only is anthocyanin a powerful antioxidant, it is also a potent anti-inflammatory. Foods rich in antioxidants can protect the tissues from degradation since it captures and eliminate the free radicals that cause damage to arterial cells. By eating ample amounts of cherries, the enzymes that are causing inflammation are prevented to continue its function and therefore stop the inflammatory process not just in any parts of the body but particularly on the arteries. Lastly, studies has shown that cherries’ anthocyanin prevent the build-up of plaques at the arterial walls that causes several diseases of the heart.
Grapes are popular eaten as is or as dried fruit called raisins or drank as wine. There have been several debates about the benefits of drinking wine made of grapes, but studies have shown that it has indeed plenty of benefits than disadvantages. Yes, it makes one woozy because of its alcohol content, but grapes have more health benefits, particularly for the arterial health. A cup of grapes is only 60 calories, but it is rich in manganese, vitamin K, C, B1, B6 and potassium.
In a review published in Nutrition Research 2008, scientists discovered that drinking grape extracts, juice or wine can actually prevent the development of chronic degenerative diseases, which are largely due to inflammation. This is due to the polyphenols contained in grapes. Polyphenols are the resveratrol, anthocyanin, phenolic acid and flavonoids. These polyphenols either slows down or prevent oxidative stress that may occur at the arteries. The constant relaxation and contraction of the arteries produces stress due to oxidation. With increased polyphenols in the body, arteries are protected from inflammation and therefore degradation, such as in the case of arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
Who would ever think that a pungent smelling plant can protect the arteries? But the stinky smell of garlic is actually what gives health benefits to man. The stinky smell comes from the sulfur compound called allicin. Chopped or crushed before cooking, allicin works more effectively for one’s health than in its original form. In a study made at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, the scientists were able to illustrate the protective benefits of garlic through hydrogen sulfide released by the red blood cells. When studied on rats, just two cloves of garlic resulted to 72 percent relaxation of the lab rat’s blood vessels. When there is relaxation, blood pressure is lowered. When there is relaxation, damage due to stress by oxidation is prevented and therefore promote arterial health.
Sweet potatoes are not only excellent source of vitamin A and other vitamins and minerals, but it is also rich in anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is an antioxidant which can reduce inflammation due to the increasing oxidative stress, and sweet potatoes are rich in anthocyanin. Anthocyanin in sweet potatoes also has an impact in fibrinogen a substance that is necessary for normal blood clotting. When fibrinogen is balanced in the body, any irritation in the arteries is controlled. Sweet potatoes can reduce inflammation and reduce the fibrinogen levels in the body.
Salmon is popular nowadays because of its high omega-3 fatty acids content. Omega-3 helps in thinning of the blood by slowing down the clotting process. When clotting is controlled, there is lesser risk in arterial build-up of plaques and clots. This will therefore protect the heart and all organs that are part of the cardiovascular system. Eating 6-ounce of salmon and other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids 2 to 3 times a week is helpful in protecting the body from several cardiovascular problems, such as hypertension, arteriosclerosis, dysrhythmia and heart attack.
Eating spinach has several benefits. A cup of cooked spinach can provide an amazingly 1110 percent of the body’s vitamin K requirement. It can also provide 377 percent of the daily value of vitamin A. Spinach is also rich in manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, vitamin C and B-vitamins. Spinach is also excellent in protecting the arteries from hardening. The folate of this vibrant looking vegetable can decrease the homocysteine levels in the blood. With high homocysteine level, risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, including arterial diseases, increases. Moreover, the rich vitamin K of spinach allows the blood to clot normally, therefore preventing problems of the arteries.
Advertisements gave too much emphasis on the health benefits of tomatoes. Indeed tomatoes are excellent food sources for any types of health problems. This is due to its antioxidant capabilities. The popular lycopene in tomatoes are can protect the body’s cardiovascular system. Especially in the blood vessels where there is too much lipid peroxidation that causes the arteries to be irritated and decrease its function, lycopene helps in eradicating this risk by lowering the tendencies of lipid peroxidation.