Choosing healthier foods for better circulation is not only good for your heart but it leads to faster healing, stronger muscles and higher energy.
Optimizing blood flow reduces wear and tear on your circulatory system, which benefits your arteries and veins from head to toe. Poor circulation (blood flow) can lead to a variety of health concerns and problems, and it can contribute to varicose veins. In addition to exercise, weight management and not smoking, eating the right foods also contributes to optimal circulation.
Cocoa contains flavonoids, a natural element found in plants and fruits that has been well linked to improving blood circulation. A study published in the Circulation Journal showed that dark chocolate rich in natural flavonoids improved blood circulation when compared with white chocolate with no flavonoids.
Eat dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao, in fact the higher the better. Limit yourself to 1 or 2 small pieces.
Nuts are packed with healthy fats, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, protein, fiber as well as magnesium and L-arginine, two nutrients in nuts that improve circulation. While magnesium helps arteries relax so they can expand and contract, L-arginine is used to produce nitric oxide, a compound that also helps arteries dilate.
Buy unsalted roasted nuts or buy raw nuts and roast them at home. Unsalted roasted nuts make a delicious salad topper or a crunchy snack. Avoid salted nuts, even lightly salted packaged nuts contain too much sodium.
Sunflower seeds are rich in Vitamin E, which is shown to help keep blood clots from forming.
Oranges, strawberries and Vitamin C
Oranges and other citrus fruits high vitamin C are natural blood thinners and are said to strengthen capillary walls and prevent plaque build-up.
A variety of other foods that fall into this category are lemons, bell peppers, broccoli, pineapple, and strawberries.
Check with your doctor first if you take prescription medication; some citrus reacts negatively with certain medications.
Tomatoes and Watermelon
Lycopene is a naturally occurring antioxidant that gives certain foods a reddish color. Lycopene has been linked to improving circulation through the body and also helps to reduce the risk of developing a number of other health conditions. Foods that contain Lycopene are watermelon, apricots and tomatoes. Pink grapefruit contains Lycopene but the citrus fruit can react with some medications, so check with your doctor first.
Salmon, avocado and flax seeds
Cold-water fish such as salmon, cod and mackerel are high in Omega-3 fats, which help to stimulate blood flow. These fats not only reduce inflammation, but they help reduce the “stickiness” of platelets in the blood, which has the effect of thinning the blood so it flows more easily. Omega-3 fats even can break down blood clots.
Try to eat Omega-3 fishes at least 2–3 times a week, and be sure to buy fish that is “wild caught” and not “farm raised.” Not a fish eater? Try avocado, or flax and chia seeds (often found in specific granolas).
Beets help improve circulation because they’re rich in nitrate. The converts nitrate into nitric oxide, which helps arteries to dilate.
Olives and other Vitamin-E rich foods
Vitamin-E is a fat-soluble vitamin similar to in that it helps to dilate blood vessels to increase blood flow. This makes adding more Vitamin-E containing foods to your diet so beneficial. Try adding to your diet sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and olives as well as dark leafy greens, unless you take a medication that prohibits it.
Spice it up
Ginger, garlic and cayenne pepper all increase blood circulation.
Eat ginger root raw, add it to Asian-style dishes or brew it with hot water to make a tea.Garlic cleanses the blood, helps prevent plaque build-up and lowers blood pressure. Allicin, a key component in fresh garlic, promotes dilation of the arteries. However, be careful when cooking with garlic because heat breaks down the allicin. To maximize garlic's benefit, eat it in its natural (raw) form. When cooking with it, use low heat and try not to have it in the pan any longer than necessary. Leeks, onions and radishes have similar benefits, too.
Cayenne pepper isn’t for everyone but this pepper can strengthen your blood vessels and arteries. For the best results, eat it raw or juice it.
Remember to include vein health in your meal preparations. Always discuss any dietary restrictions and medication interactions with your doctor. For more information about vascular disease or to make an appointment go to www.sdveininstitute.com or call us at 760-944-9263.