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Cardiovascular disease (the buildup of plaque and gradual clogging of the arteries) is statistically the number one killer in the world, with an average of 2,200 Americans dying of cardiovascular disease each day. With mortality rates like that, cardiovascular health is one of the most important body systems to maintain and repair. While progressive clogging of the arteries can be caused by diet, genetics, and a sedentary lifestyle, preventing and repairing the damage is not impossible with these plant-based foods that will help unclog your arteries.

1. Garlic

Fiery garlic tofu
Fiery garlic tofu by Molly Patrick

Source: Fiery Garlic Tofu

While maybe not quite as sexy as others, garlic is hands-down a superfood. In addition to helping maintain a healthy heart, garlic can help treat a slew of viruses, infections, and even cancers. Studies show that consuming 4,000 mcg of the compound allicin (found in 1-4 cloves of garlic a day) can lower cholesterol, as well as significantly decrease both diastolic and systolic blood pressure, and prevent blood clots from forming.

Load up on your daily dose of cloves with this Creamy Zinger Garlic Spread, this Fiery Garlic Tofu, or Pumpkin Seed and Garlic Pasta.

2. Pomegranate

Healthy Chocolate Pomegranate Cups
Healthy Chocolate Pomegranate Cups by Ciarra Siller

Source: Healthy Chocolate Pomegranate Cups

This tasty and beautiful fruit has recently been discovered to clear out plaque buildup in the arteries, as well as naturally stimulate the production of nitric oxide in the blood, opening the arteries and reducing blood pressure. It won’t be hard to add more pomegranates to your diet with this stunning Cashew Citrus Cream Cake with Pomegranates or these Healthy Chocolate Pomegranate Cups.

3. Turmeric

Healing Pumpkin Turmeric Soup
Healing Pumpkin Turmeric Soup by Leno Regushadze

Source: Healing Turmeric Pumpkin Soup

The primary polyphenol in turmeric, curcumin, has been shown to reduce fatty deposits in the arteries by 26 percent. That’s a welcome statistic for heart health and a good reason to add more of this brightly colored and delicious Indian spice to your diet and then try this Healing Turmeric Pumpkin Soup.

4. Chia Seeds

Raspberry Macadamia Coconut Chia Pudding
Raspberry Macadamia Coconut Chia Pudding by Anett Velsberg

Source: Raspberry Macadamia Coconut Chia Pudding

Ancient cultures have long prized chia seeds as a solid source of hydration and energy. But the fiber and alpha-linolenic acid in chia can also regulate blood pressure, lower triglycerides, increase good cholesterol, and decrease bad cholesterol. Besides being heart-healthy, chia seeds are versatile and tasty as well. Try this Raspberry Macadamia Coconut Chia Pudding!

5. Cinnamon

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread
Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread by Christina Murray

Source: Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

The cinnamon challenge may have brought negative attention to this common spice but if consumed wisely, cinnamon is anything but bad or dangerous. Just a tablespoon of cinnamon a day can reduce cholesterol levels, as well as provide a healthy dose of antioxidants. Make your heart warm, healthy, and happy with scrumptious Vegan Cinnamon Rolls or this Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread.

6. Apples

Grilled apple pie
Grilled apple pie by Barbara Musick

Source: Grilled Apple Pie With Vanilla Coconut Whipped Cream

The pectin in apples can lower cholesterol as well as slow down the progression of clogging in the arteries. Ohio State University researchers discovered that an apple a day can reduce the hardening of arteries by 40 percent. It seems the old apple-a-day saying is true after all. Stock up on your daily dose with this recipe for Grilled Apple Pie With Vanilla Coconut Whipped Cream.

7. Tomatoes

Eggplant Onion and Tomato Stew
Eggplant Onion and Tomato Stew by Karielyn Tillman

Source: Eggplant and Tomato Stew

Carotenoid lycopene is an antioxidant that is responsible for giving tomatoes their rich red color, but it can be found in lighter or greener varieties of this juicy fruit as well. A diet rich in lycopene can significantly reduce the oxidation of the bad cholesterol that leads to atherosclerosis. Tomatoes are also important for bone health. Get your lycopene fill with this warming Eggplant and Tomato Stew.

8. Greens

Green Superfood Detox Smoothie
Green Superfood Detox Smoothie by Julie Van den Kerchove

Source: Green Superfood Detox Smoothie

Leafy greens are a rich source of anti-oxidizing vitamins, which can prevent the oxidization of cholesterol, leading to plaque formation in the arteries. Additionally, fiber, potassium, and folate can lower blood pressure. Just one serving per day of folate-rich leafy greens, like spinach or chard, can lower homocysteine levels, decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

There is no better (or tastier) way to pack in the greens than with a mouth-watering green smoothie. Check out this awesome Green Smoothie Cheat Sheet to learn how to tailor-make one you’ll love. Unclog your arteries today!

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