No matter how young or old you are, there are ways to prevent plaque from building up in your heart and blood vessels. By addressing triglycerides and cholesterol levels, you can prevent atherosclerosis and the damage it can possibly cause to your heart health.

The hardening of arteries caused by plaque buildup is called atherosclerosis. It is when cholesterol and other kinds of fat accumulate on the inner walls of your blood vessels. As this build up of fat progresses, it forms a thick waxy substance known as plaque.

While atherosclerosis does not show any symptoms, its blow can be sudden and can potentially damage your circulatory system in the form of a stroke, congestive heart failure and other deadly vascular diseases.

Fortunately, preventative measures can be done to somehow slow down the progression of plaque build up. Because cholesterol levels contribute to the development of this heart problem, lifestyle modifications are a must.

Change What You Eat

The Western diet sums up to processed food unfortunately. Everywhere you go, and in every person’s fridge you check, there is some kind of processed food there. By eliminating them from your diet, you can start taking back your life again.

● Eliminate saturated fat – If it is not possible to completely eliminate them in your diet, you have to consume very little of it. Avoid foods that contain trans fats as well. They are usually found in commercially prepared foods like potato chips, biscuits, cookies, and other junk food. Consume unsaturated fat which are found in olives, chia seeds, flax seeds and nuts.

● Eat more fish – Eating fish at least twice a week will also help improve your heart health. Cold water fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout and tuna are some of the best omega-3 rich sources out there. Most oily fishes caught wild are also packed with minerals and fatty acids. If consuming fish is not in your taste, taking omega-3 capsules is also a convenient form of supplementing your body’s need of omega-3 fatty acids.

● Consume more fruits and vegetables – phytosterols and polyphenols are found in whole foods like fruits and vegetables. They have been accounted to influence the reduction of your lipids and reduce body inflammation.

● Get more antioxidants – Aside from vegetables, antioxidants are also sourced from powerful spices. Among which are ginger, cinnamon, garlic, turmeric, and many more. Just like omega-3, you can purchase these antioxidant-rich spices in tea bags or capsule forms. Ginger can be bought in tea form while turmeric is usually sold as turmeric capsules 1000mg. Antioxidants can help neutralize free-radicals in the body and can therefore reduce oxidative damage and body inflammation. Berries such as raspberries, blueberries and strawberries are also potent sources of vitamins and antioxidants. Make sure to eat them fresh. Most canned berries are preserved in sugars and other harmful chemicals that can spark inflammation in your body.

● Cut back on sugars – Refined sugars found in candies, chocolates, cakes and other sugary treats raises your TAG (triglycerides) and lower your HDL (good cholesterol). Increased TAG and lower HDL are both strong contributors to atherosclerosis. Consuming foods high in fiber and whole-grain help you stay satiated. It also helps lower down LDL (bad cholesterol) and prevent blood sugar spikes.

Quit Your Vices

Limiting your alcohol consumption is a must. If you are a male, drink no more than 2 glasses. If you are a female, stick to one glass only. The negative effects of overconsumption of alcohol to your health can be dire, but drinking alcohol modestly does have positive effects – like lowering down your cholesterol levels. Beer, hard liquor and wine are favorably consumed, but the polyphenols found in red wine are especially recommended as they are heart-friendly.

Smoking, on the other hand, should be stopped. All smoking does is elevate your cholesterol level and irritate the inner linings of your vessels and heart wall. Smoking does have an impact in the formation of plaque inside your arteries. By stopping smoking, you can help elevate your HDL and prevent the risk of getting atherosclerosis.

Exercise Regularly

30 minutes of daily work out can already help you prevent heart complications. Because exercise helps reduce LDL, elevate HDL, and increase insulin sensitivity, your body’s metabolic response is more efficient. Someday your heart will thank you for exercising regularly and keeping an active lifestyle.

Pay Attention To The State of Your Health

Pay attention to other health conditions you have. High cholesterol is not just the cause of plaque build up in your heart. Medical conditions like obesity, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and high blood pressure are also contributing factors. Check your blood pressure and blood sugar levels and never miss out on annual check ups.

If your cholesterol or blood sugar has not changed despite of the lifestyle changes you took action on, your doctor can prescribe medications for you to help address the situation. Getting your healthcare provider involved will help you stay on track to the kind of good health you want.