The medical term that’s used to refer to clogged arteries is atherosclerosis, and it’s a serious risk factor for stroke and heart attack. The reason for this is that clogged and tough arteries restrict the flow of blood to certain parts of the heart or brain. Sometimes, problems with plaque buildup in arteries can be linked to genetics, but they are often connected to diet. Eating a significant amount of foods that are rich in fat and other dangerous substances can increase your bad cholesterol level and cause problems with atherosclerosis to become worse.

Here, we’ll look at 7 foods to avoid when you have atherosclerosis, to help you reduce your risk of a stroke, heart attack, or heart disease.

1. Refined Grains

Refined grains refer to starches that have had much of their nutrients removed during food processing. They include white flour and white rice. You will find most refined grains in the snack food or cereal aisle of the grocery store. Instead of eating these foods, when you have atherosclerosis, it’s best to stick to oats, barley, brown rice, and quinoa, which help to remove cholesterol from the body.

2. Poultry Skin

The skin of turkey and chicken, and other kinds of poultry, makes our list of 7 foods to avoid when you have atherosclerosis because it is one of the sources of plaque that accumulate and clog the arteries because it contains substantial amounts of fat. It should also be noted that chicken wings are often fried without removing the skin. Thus, chicken wings are to be avoided because they contain relatively high amounts of fat. For instance, it was determined that one fried chicken wing can contain as much as ten grams of fat.

3. Sodium

The amount of sodium you should have in your diet will depend on your health condition, age, and gender. However, if you’re suffering with atherosclerosis, then it’s safe to assume that your sodium intake should be as low as possible. Salty snack foods contribute to excess fluid in the body which can make it harder for the heart to maintain proper blood flow – increasing your risk of cardio problems.

4. Sweeteners

Sweeteners added to food like fizzy drinks and candy can be very dangerous for those who have atherosclerosis. Gum, soda, and candy should be avoided at all costs, along with dairy-based foods and desserts. A diet with high amounts of sugar can raise blood pressure and can cause the liver to release more fats into the blood stream, thus causing atherosclerosis to worsen.

5. Oils

Although nuts and seeds can be good for your body, their oils should be avoided, which is why they’re on our list of 7 foods to avoid when you have atherosclerosis. When oils are extracted from their original source, such as walnuts, olives, or sunflower seeds, the fiber is removed and that means that calories begin to build up quickly, diminishing the weight-loss and health benefits of a plant-based diet.

6. Trans-fats

The FDA is currently trying to phase out trans fatty acids, which stay solid at room temperature. You’ll find these in pastries, creamers, margarine, chips, and various prepared food items. Trans fats alter cholesterol, increasing the amount of LDL while lowering the level of HDL.

7. Saturated Fats

Finally, saturated fats can be found in oils and animal products, and they pose a number of significant health risks, particularly to people with atherosclerosis. For every one percent of energy increase taken from saturated fat, your LDL level increases by around 2 percent.