Atherosclerosis is one of the most important cardiovascular diseases that involve vessels through the development of fatty streaks and plaques. Plant-based compounds can help treat or prevent atherosclerosis through affecting the involved factors. The main purpose of this review article is to investigate and introduce medicinal plants and their potential activities regarding antioxidant properties, effective on lipids level and development of plaque, atherosclerosis, and progression of atherosclerosis as well as the development of cardiovascular disease and ischemia. To search for the relevant articles indexed in Information Sciences Institute, PubMed, Scientific Information Database, IranMedex, and Scopus between 1980 and 2013, with further emphasis on those indexed from 2004 to 2015, we used these search terms: atherosclerosis, antioxidant, cholesterol, inflammation, and the medicinal plants below. Then, the articles with inclusion criteria were used in the final analysis of the findings. Plant-based active compounds, including phenols, flavonoids, and antioxidants, can be effective on atherosclerosis predisposing factors and hence in preventing this disease and associated harmful complications, especially through reducing cholesterol, preventing increase in free radicals, and ultimately decreasing vascular plaque and vascular resistance. Hence, medicinal plants can contribute to treating atherosclerosis and preventing its progression through reducing cholesterolemia, free radicals, inflammation, vascular resistance, and certain enzymes. They, alone or in combination with hypocholesterolemic drugs, can therefore be useful for patients with hyperlipidemia and its complications.
Keywords: Antioxidant; atherosclerosis; hypercholesterolemia.