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Thursday, August 21, 2008 Cecil Pritchett, Community Member, asks

Q: How to lower plaque buildup

I would like information on how to clean plaque out of my arteries and increase my blood flow.

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Answers (1)
8/22/08 9:34pm

Hi Cecil,


A great non-invasive way to reduce plaque in your arteries is through increasing your HDL.  Ideally HDL should be above 60 mg/dL and your ratio of total cholesterol to HDL should be less than 5.0 (ideally 3.5 or less). 


I like to think of HDL as a vacuum cleaner.  It circulates through your arteries picking up the cholesterol LDL leaves behind.  The more HDL the better!


Physical activity is the best way to elevate HDL.  Being physically active 5 or more days each week for at least 30 minutes will boost your HDL higher.


Limiting unhealthy fats will also impact HDL, so look at your saturated fat and trans fat intake and see where you can make cuts.   Your total fat intake for the day should be limited to 30% of your daily calories.  Of this 30%, only 10% should be from saturated fat and ideally zero from trans fats.  To attain these levels you'll need to select healthy choices when dining out, read food labels, select healthy fats when cooking, select lean cuts of meat, etc.


Incorporating healthy omega 3 fatty acids will also improve your total cholesterol to HDL ratio.  Here are a few articles explaining fatty acids and how to use them to lower cholesterol.


To lower cholesterol add omega 3 fatty acids to your daily intake.  Here are three articles that explain fatty acids and how they work to lower cholesterol.


Get a Grip on Fatty Acids

Top 5 Omega 3 Sources to Lower Cholesterol

Omega 3's - How much to lower cholesterol?


Also, a high fiber diet plays a role in lowering LDL cholesterol (especially soluble fiber).  Be sure to select whole grain products, fruits, and vegetables daily.


Alcohol plays a role in raising HDL levels also.  I'm not a big advocate of using alcohol to raise HDL, so if you already consume alcohol 1-2 drinks per day can raise levels.  More than 1-2 drinks per day will increase your health problems.  If you do not drink, do not start.


All the best,

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN

Heart Health and Weight Loss Tips

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By Cecil Pritchett, Community Member— Last Modified: 11/15/13, First Published: 08/21/08