Sweet treats that do - and don’t - promote vein health


A handful of dark chocolate. A bowl brimming with fresh raspberries. Clusters of roasted almonds coated in chocolate. Strawberries dipped in dark chocolate.

Not only are these sweets a treat, but these are also all good choices when it comes to your venous system.

What we eat has a direct impact on how our body functions.

Added sugars contribute to weight gain, which places stress on the veins. Consuming excess sugar also can raise blood sugar levels and lead to diabetes, another known risk factor for vein disease.

How much is the right amount of sugar in your diet? Americans consume about 77 grams of added sugar per day. But the American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 25 grams daily and that men consume less than 36 grams per day.

Sodium is hidden in cookies, cakes, pies, ice cream and other treats. Too much sodium leads to water retention, and this stresses the veins. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams daily.

Before buying any packaged food product, check the label. You might be surprised by just how much sugar and salt you are consuming.

Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, satisfies cravings and benefits your heart and venous system. Why is this? Dark chocolate, derived from the cocoa plant, contains flavanols, and the production of nitric oxide found in flavanols improves blood flow.

Foods rich in the antioxidant phenol promotes overall well-being. This potent antioxidant can be found in black and green teas. When you are craving a sweet treat during the day, steep a cup of tea and sip it slowly. Chances are you will feel relaxed and calm within minutes – and your craving for sugar might even be resolved.

Nuts and seeds are another healthy choice that aids in circulation. Fiber-filled nuts contain niacin or vitamin B3, a nutrient that reduces inflammation. Hemp, chia, flax, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds have substantial amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids, fiber and antioxidants, all of which are excellent sources of anti-inflammatory proteins that help lower cholesterol.

Whole fruit is an excellent choice when you are craving something sweet. Citrus fruits are rich in nitrates and polyphenol antioxidants, both of which are powerful vasodilators and are among the best anti-inflammatory foods you can eat. These fruits are naturally sweet and contain critical soluble fibers for the heart and blood.

Are your varicose veins bothering you? Are you ready to address this health concern? San Diego Vein Institute can help you optimize your venous system. Dr. Van Cheng of the San Diego Vein Institute is a Harvard University educated medical doctor who specializes in treating venous concerns. Dr. Cheng is located at 336 Encinitas Boulevard, Suite 130, Encinitas, CA 92024. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (760) 944-9263 or visit