(HealthDay News) -- Atherosclerosis occurs when plaque -- a combination of fat, cholesterol and calcium deposits -- builds up inside arteries.

The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute suggests these lifestyle changes that can help reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis:

  • Stick to a heart-healthy diet that is rich in whole grains, vegetables and fruits.
  • Limit salt, saturated fats, sugar and cholesterol.
  • If you're overweight, devise a plan to lose weight.
  • Get plenty of exercise each day.
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • Tell your doctor about any family history of atherosclerosis.