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 Dr. George Jacob
Heart Infocenter


Alternative and Complementary Remedies for Arteriosclerosis And Atherosclerosis

Diet/Food Therapy for Arteriosclerosis

A well designed, heart-friendly diet can help to lower the total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and blood fats, raise the helpful HDL, control oxidation damage, "thin" the blood and otherwise protect the heart.

Foods to Eat Foods to Avoid
Whole grains 
Plenty of raw vegetables and leafy greens 
Cold-water fish: salmon, mackerel, sardines, etc. 
Raw honey and bee pollen 
Seeds such as sunflower, flax, pumpkin, and chia 
Chinese Medicine 
Wheat germ (improves heart yin) 
Wheat berries (improves heart yin) 
Mung beans (improves heart yin) 
Red meat 
Dairy products 
Dark meat of chicken or turkey (higher in fat) 
Hydrogenated fats 
Fried foods 
Refined grains

Too much fat in the diet, especially saturated fat, plays a major role in increasing the serum cholesterol levels-which promote atherosclerosis. Saturated fats have been found to raise blood levels of LDL cholesterol by inhibiting the uptake of LDL by cells.

Replace animal fats-especially those that are solid at room temperature-with vegetable oils like corn, safflower, soybean, olive, canola and cottonseed. A vegetarian diet may be protective.

Use soft-spread margarines than stick margarine. Soft spread margarines have fewer trans fatty acids per gram than stick margarines. Trans fatty acids act in ways similar to saturated fats. Look for those that list water or a liquid vegetable oil as the first ingredient. If you've been melting margarine to use in cooking, switch to olive or canola oil instead.

Eat fewer calories. Larger portions promote obesity - a major deterrent to heart health. A 1995 study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that weight loss was more effective than exercise in reducing the risk of coronary-artery disease in overweight, healthy middle-aged and older men.

Eat foods rich in fiber. A 1996 study found that men who consume about 28 grams of fiber a day are at decreased risk for heart attack.

Cut down on coffee. One study linked high cholesterol to men who drank three cups a day or more. Caffeine can also elevate heart rate and cause arrhythmias that are not of benefit to anybody with heart disease.

Eat a wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, plenty of whole grains and smaller amounts of fish, nonfat dairy products, low-fat meat and occasional nuts and seeds. In other words, a diet rich in the complex carbohydrates found in vegetables and grains, fiber and beneficial phytochemicals. By eating these foods, you're eating less fat and cholesterol.

A great deal of research suggests that this type of diet can lower the cholesterol and blood fats by some 20 percent. Since the risk of heart disease drops 2 percent with every 1 percent drop in total cholesterol, adopting a low-fat, high-fiber, high-complex-carbohydrate diet can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 40 percent.

There are foods that are particularly important for heart health. We will take a look at them.

Brewer's yeast

This can lower the total cholesterol and LDL while raising the helpful HDL. In one study with normal- and high-cholesterol patients, 11 healthy volunteers were given brewer's yeast. Eight weeks later, 10 of the 11 people with normal cholesterol levels had even lower total cholesterol levels and increased HDL levels. Among the 15 volunteers with high cholesterol, eight enjoyed the same beneficial results.


In one study, it was found that adding as little as two ounces of garlic juice to a fatty, cholesterol-laden meal can actually lower the cholesterol by up to 7 percent. Another study found that 600 mg of garlic powder a day reduces the total cholesterol by some 10 percent. Other research has supported these findings, suggesting that garlic can lower both total and LDL cholesterol while raising the HDL ("good") cholesterol.

A 10-month study found that eating three cloves of garlic (or the equivalent in supplements) a day keeps the cholesterol down for extended periods. Garlic contains ajoene and other substances that helps to keep the blood "thin" and free of potentially deadly blood clots.


Ginger also possess several heart-helping attributes. Ginger interferes with the formation of the blood clots, helping to ward off heart attacks.

Green Tea

Green tea is a popular beverage in Asia. It helps to keep blood pressure under control. The tea contains Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) and other substances that protect the body against the dangers of oxidation, while helping to keep the harmful LDL cholesterol down and the helpful HDL cholesterol up. They also assist in keeping blood pressure under control.

Research has shown that drinking green tea may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Japanese scientists found that as the subjects of their study increased their tea consumption, their levels of total blood cholesterol and triglycerides decreased; LDL cholesterol decreased; and HDL cholesterol increased. 

Oat Bran

Oat bran lowers cholesterol in many people and protects against other diseases.


Onions contain adenosine and other "blood thinners" that help to prevent the possibly fatal blood clots. Onions can help keep the coronary arteries open and clear by increasing the HDL. Eating half a raw onion every day can increase HDL by 20 to 30 percent.


Prunes help to protect the heart. In both human and animal studies, prunes had a mild cholesterol-lowering effect.


Soy and soy-based foods, such as tofu, have proven to be heart protectors. One study showed that soy protein could "cancel out" the effect of 500 mg of cholesterol deliberately added to the daily diet. Although soy can lower cholesterol levels in those with normal levels, it works best in people with elevated cholesterol.


Drinking moderate amounts of wine may raise the beneficial HDL while lowering the harmful LDL. Wine also helps to reduce the stress that increases the risk of heart disease and works to keep the blood thin and clot-free. 
The active heart-boosting ingredients in wine include the phenols. Like vitamins C, E and alpha/beta carotene, the phenols are antioxidants.
Drinking any kind of alcohol can be dangerous. If you don't drink, don't start now. If you do drink, only drink in moderation. If you already use alcohol and are not a problem drinker, one glass of wine with dinner will be helpful. Please note that excessive drinking is very bad for heart and overall health.

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