Eating for Better Blood Flow

While no specific food can reduce the risk of blood clots, most people’s diets inevitably lack essential nutrients needed to strengthen the body’s defenses against disease. Eating healthier foods in general is the first step, along with treating or controlling risk factors. This may include following your health care provider's recommendations for treatment and control of hypertension, diabetes, and other diseases, reducing body weight if overweight, giving up smoking, and getting regular exercise to improve circulation. Consider including some of the following foods shown to benefit circulation

Oily Fish

Omega 3 fatty acids found primarily in cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel can improve blood vessel elasticity and thin the blood. It can also help decrease bad LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol, raise good HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol, lower triglycerides (a type of blood fat) and may reduce the risk of blood clots.

Leafy Greens

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have found that nitrite, a common small ion in the blood, also found in leafy green vegetables, could help treat high blood pressure and heart attacks (nitrite levels have been shown to be low in patients with high blood pressure). The report suggested nitrite improves blood flow by opening blood vessels, and therefore increasing oxygen in the blood. It also demonstrated that when hemoglobin releases its oxygen in regions of the body with low oxygen (such as organs), it converts nitrite to nitric oxide, which is known to dilate blood vessels.

Magnesium-rich foods

Seeds, whole grains, liver and dark green vegetables contain magnesium, which minimizes the risk of abnormal blood clotting. Alcohol, caffeine, diuretics, prescription asthma drugs, digitalis and other cardiovascular drugs leach magnesium from your body. Even stress depletes your magnesium, and if you have diabetes and high blood sugar, you lose a lot of magnesium in your urine, so replenishing your supply of this mineral is essential.

Potassium-rich foods

Almonds, avocado, chard, chicken, turkey, halibut, cod, and cantaloupe supply potassium, which aids proper functioning of cell walls and helps prevent edema.

Horse Chestnut

Studies suggest that horse chestnut supplements, (made from the actual nut) are a good standard treatment for pain and swelling caused by venous insufficiency. Horse chestnut can interact with blood thinners and other drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) so check with your doctor first.

Hot Peppers

Some studies show capsaicin, the natural chemical that puts the "Hot" in hot peppers, may increase blood flow thus preventing clotting and possibly heart disease in general. Capsaicin activates the body's circulation dramatically, however, unlike the speed-like side effects of drugs, capsaicin promotes circulatory blood flow by conducting heat and inhibiting nerve receptors that cause swelling and pain.

Garlic

A compound in fresh garlic called allicin has been found in some studies to thin blood and lower blood cholesterol.

Electrolyte Drinks

A new study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests electrolyte drinks may keep people better hydrated in dry environments, such as airplane cabins. The researchers say the relatively salty water in those beverages stays in the body longer than water alone, preserving a higher blood volume. While there's no direct evidence yet linking blood volume to deep-vein clotting, good hydration is generally recommended.

Tea

Some evidence suggests the antioxidants in tea can help prevent the build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries, act as anti-blood clotting agents and improve blood vessel dilation to allow increased blood flow.


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