Our bodies have different types of blood vessels -- namely, arteries, veins and capillaries. Arteries carry oxygen and nutrients to the body, veins return the blood to the heart, and capillaries take care of the actual exchange between the blood and the surrounding body tissues. Plaque can accumulate in your arteries, leading to atherosclerosis and heart disease. Atherosclerosis is the plaque build-up of fats inside your artery walls, which may lead to restricted blood flow. You can prevent and treat atherosclerosis.
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Stop smoking and make sure you get exercise most days of the week. Exercising on a regular basis helps your body use oxygen more efficiently. "Physical activity can also improve circulation and promote development of new blood vessels that form a natural bypass around obstructions, or collateral vessels," reports the Mayo Clinic.
Avoid fatty foods and follow the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet, or TLC. This program focuses on eating healthful foods, being physically active and managing your weight. In the TLC diet, less than 7 per cent of your daily calories can come from saturated fat, which is found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods.
Eat goods fats that contain omega-3 fatty acids available in fish such as salmon, canned or fresh tuna and mackerel. These fatty acids can protect you from heart attacks and reduce the risk of inflammation and blood clots. Avoid eating fried fish and try to have at least two fish-based meals per week.
Eat a lot of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain cereals because they are high in soluble fibre. Particularly good sources are fruits, such as oranges, apples, bananas, pears and prunes, and legumes, such as kidney beans, chick peas, lentils, black-eyed peas and lima beans.
Drink no more than two alcoholic drinks per day if you are a man and one if you are a woman. Alcohol raises your blood pressure and triglyceride level and adds unnecessary calories to your diet.
Minimise your salt intake, meaning choose low-salt and "no added salt" foods and seasonings at the table or when preparing food. Check the nutrition facts label on all food items to see how much sodium they contain.
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