What are the best foods to improve blood circulation?

Fatty Fish
Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, and halibut are full of omega-3 fatty acids.

A nutritious diet is vital to your health. Feeding your body all the nutrients it needs not only prevents illness and disease, but it also keeps your body and its organs functioning like the well-tuned machine that it is. 

Your blood flow is an important part of carrying all those nutrients and oxygen to where your body needs it. A healthy diet can help your blood circulation without medication.

Try these healthy foods, which are known to improve blood circulation and overall health. They can even help prevent serious conditions such as heart attack, deep vein thrombosis, and high blood pressure.

What foods can help lower blood pressure?

Almonds

Nuts are considered a perfect light snack or salad topping. Almonds are packed with vitamin E and healthy fats, and they also have antioxidant properties. A diet rich in almonds was found in a study to improve blood flow. 

Bananas

Packed with potassium, bananas can help improve blood flow by lowering blood pressure. Too much sodium in your diet can cause high blood pressure, but potassium helps the kidneys remove extra sodium from your body, which then passes through your urine. This helps relax blood vessels and enable blood flow.

Beets

Beet root is a superfood that's rich in nitrate. Nitrate is good for you because your body turns it into nitric oxide, which can relax your blood vessels and improve your blood flow to tissues and organs throughout your body. Another great benefit: beet juice can lower your systolic blood pressure.

Carrots

A diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables has many health benefits, and carrots can have a positive effect on cardiovascular health. A study found that drinking 16 fl. oz. of carrot juice daily decreased systolic blood pressure. It’s possible the carrot juice protects the cardiovascular system by increasing total antioxidant status. 

Cinnamon

A favorite spice sprinkled on top of a bowl of oatmeal or hot drink, cinnamon has been found to relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure, which helps to increase blood flow. 

Citrus Fruit

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for staying healthy and citrus fruits are an excellent way to include it in your diet. Citrus fruit such as oranges, grapefruit, and lemons contain many antioxidants that can lower inflammation, prevent blood clots, and improve blood circulation. 

Ginger

Ginger has become a popular condiment for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, as well as its potential to treat cardiovascular disease, but further research is needed. Some studies suggest ginger can help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba is believed to improve blood circulation. In a study of healthy people, it was found to reduce diastolic blood pressure by an average of 7 mmHg. But another study found it only reduced blood pressure by less than 1 mmHg in elderly people with hypertension already on antihypertensive medication.

Sunflower Seeds

Tiny but mighty, sunflower seeds contain many essential nutrients. Sunflower seeds are noteworthy because they're high in healthy fats, proteins, fiber, phytochemicals, selenium, copper, magnesium, and vitamin E. A good source of magnesium, sunflower seeds also lower blood pressure, thus improving blood flow. Make sure your sunflower seeds are unsalted though, as the salt would have a negative effect on your blood pressure.

Turmeric

This popular spice has anti-inflammatory properties due to a compound called curcumin. Curcumin is believed to kickstart the production of nitric oxide, which helps your blood vessels widen and make it easier for blood to flow throughout your body.

Walnuts

Walnuts are not only a healthy snack, they’re also a source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid, which can help blood flow easier. Additionally, noshing on walnuts regularly can also improve the health of your blood vessels and lower blood pressure.

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What foods can help prevent a heart attack?

Avocado

Rich in monounsaturated fats, avocado is also high in carnitine and potassium. Potassium-rich avocados can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and they can also lower blood pressure. Avocados are low in sodium, which can raise blood pressure. 

Berries

Berries are well-known for being rich in antioxidants, including anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is especially beneficial to your heart, as it can prevent arteries from stiffening. It also helps your body to release nitric oxide to lower your blood pressure.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate, a healthier alternative to milk chocolate, can improve blood flow when you eat chocolate that has at least 85 percent cocoa. The polyphenols in dark chocolate are said to reduce oxidative stress and help the body form more nitric oxide, which helps the blood vessels dilate and increase blood flow.

Fish

Heart healthy fish like salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, and halibut are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are helpful in improving your blood circulation. Eating fish regularly has many benefits, including lowering your resting blood pressure and keeping your arteries unclogged. A diet that includes fish has also been shown in studies to lower your risk of heart attack, atherosclerosis, and arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat).  

Green Tea

Tea is known for having a healthy effect on the heart and is associated with a decreased cardiovascular risk. Additionally, a study found that green tea rapidly improves the endothelial function of the circulatory system. Endothelial dysfunction on the other hand, precedes atherosclerosis, a thickening and hardening of the arterial walls, which could potentially cause a stroke or heart attack.

Onion

Onion is rich in quercetin, a strong antioxidant flavonoid that reduces the risk of cardiovascular events. Because of this fact, a study found that having onion daily can increase blood flow. Another study discovered that habitual consumption of allium vegetables (garlic and onion) led to a 64 percent reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease.

Pomegranates

Pomegranate seeds are packed with nutrients, primarily heart-healthy polyphenols, tannins, and anthocyanins, which are antioxidants. These may help prevent atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, according to a study. Additionally, drinking pomegranate juice daily was shown to improve blood flow to the heart in patients with heart disease

Tomato

Tomatoes are high in carotenoids such as lycopene, beta carotene, and vitamin E, which are effective antioxidants that can reduce blood pressure, improve blood flow, and slow the progression of atherosclerosis.

Watermelon

A quintessential summer fruit, watermelon is a low calorie, high-fiber snack. A study by The Florida State University suggests that watermelon can help fight prehypertension, a precursor to cardiovascular disease. Watermelon is one of the highest sources of L-citrulline, which can slow or weaken the increase in aortic blood pressure, according to the study.

What foods can help prevent deep vein thrombosis?

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper packs more punch than the spice it imparts to your food. It boasts anti-inflammatory properties, and it also can boost your artery function, relax your blood vessels for easier blood flow, and keep your blood pressure closer to where it should be.

Garlic

Garlic is good for more than boosting the immune system. Garlic's concentrations of allicin and pyruvate give it the power to stop blood clots from forming in your bloodstream and can prevent cardiovascular disease. Eating garlic raw has been the most popular way to enjoy its health benefits, but you can also roast it and still achieve the same health-promoting effects.

Grapes

These naturally sweet treats can improve the health of your arteries as well as your blood circulation. Packed with antioxidant polyphenols, purple grapes help keep blood platelets from sticking together and forming blood clots, and can reduce inflammation and decrease blood pressure.

Spinach

Green, leafy vegetables are known for being iron rich. A lesser-known health benefit, their high levels of nitrates improve circulation by enlarging the blood vessels in your body and allowing blood to flow easier. Research has shown that eating spinach regularly can also keep arteries more flexible and lower blood pressure.

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Warnings and possible drug interactions

Certain foods and supplements you may be taking could potentially interact with other medications. Here are just a few to keep an eye out for.

Bananas and ACE Inhibitors

ACE inhibitors such as Lotensin, Capoten, and Vasotec should not be taken in combination with bananas to avoid raising potassium levels too high. 

Chocolate and MAOI Inhibitors 

Because of chocolate's high caffeine content, it can interact with stimulants such as Ritalin by increasing its effect, or by decreasing the effect of sedative-hypnotics such as Ambien.

Fish (or Fish Oil) and Warfarin

Consuming fish or fish oil, which can thin the blood, should not be combined with blood-thinning medications such as warfarin.

Ginger and Anticoagulants

Ginger can potentially cause blood thinning and should not be taken with blood-thinning medications such as Warfarin. 

Ginkgo Biloba and Anti-Seizure Medications

Taking high doses of ginkgo biloba can reduce the effectiveness of medications that control seizures such as:

Green Leafy Vegetables and Warfarin

If you eat green vegetables high in vitamin K, like spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, etc., in fluctuating amounts and take Warfarin, a prescription drug that prevents blood clots, it can reduce the effects of the medication.

Grapefruit Juice and Prescription Medications

Grapefruit juice may potentially interfere with certain drugs, including: 

Pomegranate Juice, Blood Pressure Medication and Warfarin

If you take blood pressure medication, pomegranate juice could possibly cause your blood pressure to go too low.

There is also a possible interaction between pomegranate juice and warfarin because pomegranate juice inhibits the cytochrome P450 enzymes involved in warfarin metabolism. 

Always check with your doctor first whether any medications you are taking may interact with the foods in your diet.

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Medically Reviewed on 4/9/2020
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