You may experience poor blood circulation for a number of reasons. Lifestyle choices and a poor diet can contribute to this problem. But did you know that certain foods can help with blood flow?
Thankfully, there are a lot of foods that not only taste great, but also naturally help your body improve blood circulation.
What are the Symptoms and Risk Factors for Circulatory Problems?
If your blood vessels don’t work properly, serious problems may result. These include issues that can affect your arteries (and as a result, your heart), and other problems that affect your brain and even your love life. You might not only experience pain, but also numbness or a sensation of coldness in your legs and arms.
Circulation problems can also lead to digestive issues.1
Now, there are several issues that could put you at risk of a circulatory problem. Here are just a few:
- High cholesterol – If you have too much LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol in your blood, that can make it hard for blood to circulate throughout your body.
- Being overweight – Being overweight increases the chances of having high blood pressure and other health problems.
- Smoking – If you smoke, that can damage your arteries to the point to where your heart has to work too hard. This makes you more likely to have blood clots, which can increase the chances of developing several cardiovascular problems.2
Which Minerals Help the Body With Healthy Blood Flow?
You might not associate minerals with circulation, but three, in particular, are very important – potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Having enough potassium is important for blood flow. This mineral helps to relax the walls of blood vessels so blood can circulate more easily through your body. It’s also important for muscle function and to help keep your heart beating properly.3
Fruits and vegetables that contain potassium include potatoes, Swiss chard, and apricots.4
The walls of your arteries are lined with endothelial cells. These cells play a big role in helping the walls dilate and improve circulation. Research shows that magnesium helps the endothelial cells work as they should.5
Several vegetables are high in magnesium. These include asparagus, broccoli, beans, cabbage, and cucumbers.6 Pumpkin seeds also have a lot of magnesium. As little as one cup can provide 168 milligrams.7
You have probably heard that calcium delivers benefits such as helping build strong bones, but it can also help improve circulation. Since your body can’t produce this mineral, you have to get it through food or supplements.8
Yogurt and sour cream are good sources of calcium, as are low-fat dairy products such as milk. Almonds and sardines also contain a good amount of this important mineral.9
Which Foods Can Help Improve Circulation and Blood Flow Through the Body?
When it comes to foods that help blood flow, these are some of the best. And as a bonus, many of them deliver other health benefits as well.
Walnuts contain compounds that can help increase blood flow, including vitamin E and alpha-lipoic acid.10,11 Walnuts can help to increase the efficiency of blood vessels.12
By the way, vitamin E in walnuts is a powerful antioxidant. This is important because antioxidants help to inhibit the development of free radicals – dangerous molecules that can damage muscles and tissues.13
Berries play a role in healthy blood circulation.14
Beets are high in nitrates, which your body converts into nitric oxide. This helps blood vessels relax, which helps to increase blood flow to muscles.15
Ginger root is a delicious spice that has actually been used for centuries because of its medicinal qualities. It has been well established that ginger can improve blood circulation.16
You might be surprised to learn that onions are among the best foods that help blood flow. In one study, male participants saw an increase in blood flow after taking onion extract each day.17
If you love tomatoes, you’ll be happy to know that they’re among the best foods that help blood flow. They’re packed with nutrients, including beta carotene, vitamin E, and lycopene, which have been associated with several health benefits.18
Mackerel, salmon, and other types of seafood are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Now, omega-3’s help to release nitric oxide, which, as you learned earlier, helps to relax blood vessels and increase blood flow.19
In one study, men who ingested 4.2 grams of fish oil each day for a month saw a substantial increase in blood flow to their legs after they exercised.20
Green tea helps the endothelial cells that line your circulatory system work more efficiently.21
If you can handle a little heat with your food, you might want to consider using cayenne pepper. This spice contains capsaicin, which helps to increase blood flow by helping your blood vessels expand.22
Cinnamon isn’t just a great-tasting spice. It also has major health benefits. Research suggests cinnamon relaxes the blood vessels, helping to increase blood flow.23
Spinach, collard greens, and other leafy greens contain nitrates. These foods help blood flow.24
Fruits such as pomegranate have been shown to be foods that help blood flow. One study showed that taking 1,000 mg of pomegranate extract before a workout can increase the diameter of blood vessels, helping to improve performance.25
You should be able to find pomegranates, or pomegranate juice, in your local health food store.
Citrus fruits can also increase blood flow. Lemons, grapefruit, oranges, and other citrus fruits contain flavonoids. These are compounds that help keep the arteries flexible, so blood can move more freely.26
Like ginger, turmeric is a spice that has been known for years to have medicinal qualities. The use of turmeric as an agent to increase blood flow is centuries old.27
Now, the reason turmeric is so powerful is its active ingredient, curcumin. Participants in a study who took a supplement containing curcumin daily for three months saw an increase in blood flow to their arms.28
Garlic contains allicin, a compound that relaxes the blood vessels.29 A study showed that people who took supplements containing allicin saw a substantial increase in blood flow compared to those who took a placebo.30
Dark chocolate that is 85 percent cocoa has been shown to help increase blood flow in people. It’s important to note however, that milk chocolate doesn’t offer the same benefit.31
Red Meat and Blood Circulation
Red meat can do a real number on your circulatory system and your cardiovascular system. It can contribute to clogged arteries, which can ultimately put your cardiovascular health in jeopardy.32 It can also lead to an unhealthy increase in belly fat.33
However, that doesn’t mean you should immediately cut out all red meat. For example, it contains iron, which your body needs in order make sure it has enough red blood cells.34
Other Ways to Increase Blood Flow
As it turns out, there are several other methods you can use to improve blood circulation besides increasing your intake of foods that help blood flow to your legs, arms, and the rest of your body. Here are just a few you should consider:
→ Stop smoking – Smoking increases the risk of several diseases that can negatively impact blood circulation.35
→ Stay hydrated – Staying hydrated is important to improve blood flow; it offers several other health benefits as well.36
→ Lose weight – People who are obese tend to have poorer blood circulation and are at a higher risk of many other health issues.37
→ Lower stress – Stress has a major impact on blood pressure, but there are several things you can do to lower it. For example, you can meditate, work in your garden, or practice yoga.38
Which Exercises Help Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease?
Proper blood circulation isn’t just a concern for people with health problems. Athletes and people who are very active want to keep their blood vessels working at their best. This not only helps them perform better, it also helps them recover faster from a hard workout.39
But what specific types of exercises are the best for you to try?
Research suggests that endurance exercises of moderate intensity involving your legs, like running, can deliver several benefits. Also, high-intensity aerobic exercises, like walking uphill, can also work.40
Commit to Eating Foods That Help Blood Flow
Adding foods that help blood flow to your diet can make a big difference in your overall health. Getting enough exercise, staying hydrated, and reducing stress can also go a long way toward making sure your blood vessels work as they should.
It’s important to note, however, that you should never make any kind of sudden dietary or exercise changes without talking to your doctor first. This is the case whether you’re changing your diet or exercise plan to improve your flow of blood, or for any other reason.
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