Hard gruel is a gross, but accurate, description of what atherosclerosis is. People with the disease have a buildup of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol that forms hard plaques along the walls of their arteries. This skrinks the diameter of arteries (picture coating the inside of a paper towel roll with mud), restricting blood flow. That can lead to heart attacks and strokes. The best prevention is to follow the basic tenets of a beautifully healthy life: Don’t smoke, eat well and exercise regularly.