The foods you eat can make a significant difference in blood circulation and overall cardiovascular health. According to Medical Online, “Poor circulation occurs when the flow of blood through a part of the body is impaired.” Impaired blood flow is most often associated with diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, smoking and unhealthy eating. The foods associated with the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) are also beneficial for good blood circulation.
Fruits have many important nutrients, especially vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and fiber, which are beneficial for maintaining strong and elastic arteries and veins. Berries contain the highest levels of antioxidants, which help minimize free radical damage in the arteries and can thus reduce cholesterol. Watermelons are a good source of lycopene, one of the most potent antioxidants for the circulatory system. Always choose fresh fruits when possible. Buying fresh frozen fruits is the second best option. Avoid canned fruits, which often contain added sugar and chemical preservatives.
Vegetables are rich sources of magnesium, potassium and fiber, key factors in a heart-healthy diet. Vegetables also provide numerous minerals, bioflavonoids and antioxidants, all of which can help lower cholesterol and improve blood viscosity. Some of the most beneficial vegetables for blood circulation are the dark, leafy green vegetables, such as kale and spinach. Leafy green vegetables are high in chlorophyll, which enhances circulation and helps build healthy cells, according to Phyllis A. Balch, author of “Prescription for Nutritional Healing.”
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are an excellent source of healthy fats and lean protein. They are also rich sources of magnesium and fiber, according to the DASH program. Two of the most beneficial nuts for blood circulation are almonds and walnuts. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds can help prevent clotting and also improve blood flow.
Lean Meat and Fish
The DASH diet includes moderate amounts of lean meat, poultry and fish as main sources of protein. Select only lean meat, preferably free-range beef and cage-free poultry. Fish, such as salmon, halibut and herring, which have heart-healthy fats, are the most beneficial for the circulatory system. Fish that is wild harvested rather than farm raised is usually of better quality.
Fats and Oils
Healthy fats and oils can reduce inflammation in the circulatory system and help protect heart tissue. The most beneficial fats for circulation are found in nuts, seeds, avocados, healthy fat fish, and olives. Some of the best oils to use for cooking and salad dressings include virgin and unrefined olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, and avocado oil.
- Medical Online: Poor Circulation
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension
- Prescription for Nutritional Healing; Phyllis A. Balch
Nancy Hearn is a certified health and nutrition consultant, fitness adviser and yoga instructor. She also has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and editor. Her articles appear on various health- and fitness-related websites, as well as in "Natural Life News and Directory" magazine in Montana. Hearn attended San Diego Miramar College and the Global College of Natural Medicine.