Vegetables That Are Good for Blood Flow

Tomatoes contain blood pressure-lowering substances.

Tomatoes contain blood pressure-lowering substances.

Though largely preventable, cardiovascular disease has become an epidemic in the United States, responsible for more than one-third of all deaths in 2006, notes the University of Southern California Science Review. Healthy lifestyle practices, such as moderate exercise, abstaining from smoking and a healthy diet, including eating a variety of vegetables, can improve your blood flow and help prevent circulatory disease.

Tomatoes and High-Carotenoid Vegetables

Compounds in tomatoes might promote healthy blood flow by preventing arterial plaque formation, according to a tissue culture study published in the December 2012 "Journal of Hypertension." Tomato carotenoid antioxidants lycopene and lutein lowered blood pressure by increasing levels of nitric oxide, which relaxes the muscles in the linings of arteries. They also reduced inflammation and inhibited white blood cells from sticking to blood vessel linings. Oleoresin, a compound containing tomato essential oils, in combination with lycopene and lutein, enhanced the white blood cell-inhibiting effect. Other vegetable sources of lutein include kale, collard greens, leeks and peas.

High-Nitrate Vegetables

Naturally occurring nitrates in spinach may help prevent high blood pressure, according to a study published in the January 2012 issue of "Free Radical Biology and Medicine." Healthy participants who consumed spinach showed increased blood vessel dilation and lower systolic blood pressure -- the upper number of the blood pressure ratio, signifying pressure in arteries during heart contraction. Other vegetables with high nitrate levels include beets, celery and lettuce.

Garlic, Onions and Leeks

Garlic, onions and leeks help lower blood pressure by promoting release of nitric oxide, according to a tissue culture study published in the December 2011 issue of "General Physiology and Biophysics." Garlic showed the most blood vessel-relaxing benefits, followed by onion, then leeks. A review of previously published research that appeared in the June 2008 "BMC Cardiovascular Disorders" found that garlic lowered systolic blood pressure by an average of 4.6 millimeters of mercury, mmHg, and diastolic blood pressure -- the lower number of the blood pressure ratio, signifying pressure in arteries during heart relaxation -- by an average of 7.3 mmHg compared to a placebo.

Isoflavone-Containing Vegetables

Soy compounds known as isoflavones may decrease your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, according to a study published in the July 2011 issue of the journal "California Agriculture." Isoflavones act as antioxidants -- substances that prevent cell damage due to accumulated toxins and waste products. In your bloodstream, isoflavones prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol, a process that initiates inflammation and arterial plaque formation. Isoflavones also provide estrogen-like activity that causes blood vessels to dilate. Other vegetables and plant foods high in isoflavones include alfalfa, thyme, flaxseed and chickpeas.

 

About the Author

Tracey Roizman, DC is a writer and speaker on natural and preventive health care and a practicing chiropractor. She also holds a B.S. in nutritional biochemistry.

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