The official name is atherosclerosis. It can begin in childhood and starts when certain white blood cells stick to the lining of the artery. Gradually they make their way through the outer covering of the artery wall and become established there. Over time they grow and form what’s called plaques by collecting droplets of fatty substances, in particular tiny particles of cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins). The more cholesterol in the blood, the faster the plaques grow. As they swell they protrude into the artery restricting the flow of blood.
If the surface of the swelling cracks, a blood clot may form over it (thrombus) and block the already narrowed artery causing a heart attack or it may break away and cause a blockage elsewhere (thrombosis). The fibrous top of the swelling may itself become detached and be carried away in the blood stream, also causing an artery blockage (embolism).
As with all heart-related diseases, vegetarians suffer less than meat eaters and the more meat you eat, the more likely you are to end up with clogged arteries. It’s a very serious condition but fortunately, recent research shows that an animal-free diet can actually heal some of the damage done to the arteries. A low-fat, vegetarian diet eaten for just a year can actually reverse blockages, resulting in an improved blood flow (29). If you still doubt that simple fruit and veg can have such a dramatic effect, it’s worth listening to William C. Roberts, distinguished editor-in-chief of the prestigious American Journal of Cardiology:
“Although human beings eat meat we are not natural carnivores. No matter how much fat carnivores eat they do not develop atherosclerosis. When we kill animals to eat them, they end up by killing us because their flesh, which contains cholesterol and saturated fat, was never intended for human beings who are natural herbivores” (30).