Foods That Increase Blood Flow

Foods that increase blood flow:

Proper blood flow is essential to ensure optimum delivery of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, which helps promote health and wellbeing. Try to eat some foods that increase blood flow, along with other lifestyle measures.

On the other hand, poor circulation is one of the primary causes of various health conditions, including those that affect your extremities, heart, kidneys, and brain. It can be caused by factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise, and even environmental factors like pollution.

Fortunately, there are some foods you can eat to help improve circulation throughout your body and increase blood flow to your vital organs and extremities. But keep in mind that some conditions may require medical intervention, so don’t ignore your doctor’s advice.

Nonetheless, the foods discussed in these articles can help you improve your circulation and keep you feeling healthy and vibrant all day long!

What causes poor blood flow and circulation?

While you might think that poor blood flow only affects older people, it can happen to anybody at any age. In order to keep your blood flowing freely and your circulation top-notch, it’s good to understand why you could be having poor blood flow in the first place.

There could be various reasons, including:

1. Smoking

 Smoking can be a considerable risk factor for poor circulation. The compounds in cigarettes constrict blood vessels, making it harder for your body to deliver oxygen-rich blood to its vital organs. These compounds also damage the arterial wall and increase LDL deposition. Over time, this can cause blockages in your arteries, leading to heart attacks or strokes. If you’re looking to increase blood flow throughout your body, kicking off a cigarette addiction is one of the best things you can do.

2. Obesity

Excess weight puts pressure on your veins, slowing blood flow. Not only does obesity increase the risk for circulatory problems, but it also makes recovery more difficult for people who already have them. If you’re overweight or obese, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can help improve blood flow and circulation.

Consider making lifestyle changes that will help you lose weight permanently.

3. Age

As we age, the veins become less pliable and more likely to develop blockages or varicose veins that cause pain, tenderness, and swelling in the legs and feet.

4. Sitting all day long

When we sit for long periods of time, blood flow to our legs is restricted. This can lead to poor circulation and lower blood flow in the limbs. Sitting for extended periods also restricts blood flow to your abdominal organs, which inhibits digestion. If you sit for a large part of your day, it’s imperative that you move around every now and then by standing up or walking. Better yet, try to stand while working whenever possible.

5. Medications that affect circulation

Certain prescription medications like beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and antidepressants can hinder circulation in your extremities. Ask your doctor if there are alternative medications you can take that won’t interfere with blood flow.

6. Poor diet

Eating foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and sugar can affect blood flow. These types of food tend to harden your arteries and cause them to stiffen, making it difficult to transport nutrients and oxygen throughout your body. Eating these unhealthy foods can also lead to an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.

Signs of poor circulation:

Poor circulation can cause several symptoms, including

  • Muscle cramps
  • Pins and needle sensation in the extremities
  • Numbness
  • Cold extremities
  • Bulging veins

Foods that increase blood flow and improve circulation

Having looked at the various causes of poor blood flow and circulation, here are foods that, when incorporated into the diet, can increase blood flow throughout the body and boost circulation

1. Garlic

Garlic is a regular part of many peoples’ diets, and for good reason. Not only does it add great flavor to a wide variety of dishes, but it has many health benefits, including improving overall circulation.

garlic bulbs on white background

Garlic contains allicin, a sulfur-containing compound that helps dilate blood vessels and increase blood flow through them. This, in turn, promotes circulation throughout the body.

Research shows that people who consume a diet rich in garlic experience more effective blood flow. This makes it easier for the heart to pump blood throughout the body.

Also, research shows that regular consumption of garlic can lower bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Both of these can contribute to plaque formation and atherosclerosis, which can interfere with blood flow causing poor circulation.

A study found that daily consumption of half to one clove of garlic may lower triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol by up to 10 percent.

2. Onion

Onion belongs to the same family as garlic, but the two are different.

They are rich in flavonoids, including quercetin, an antioxidant that scavenges free radicles that cause oxidative stress and cell damage. Quercetin has been shown to promote circulation by lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and increasing blood vessel relaxation.

Onion bulbs growing in a bed

One study found that a daily intake of 4.3 grams of onion extract improved arterial dilatation and blood flow after meals.

Quercetin also contains anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties that further promote free blood flow throughout the body. In addition, quercetin can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.

If you are wondering which type of onion you should consume, red and yellow onions have a relatively high impact on increasing blood flow, so adding them to soups or salads is a good choice.

3. Cayenne pepper

Capsaicin, a primary compound in cayenne pepper, is a known circulatory stimulant. It can increase blood flow throughout the body, by increasing nitric oxide production, which causes dilatation and relaxation of blood vessels. This allows for a smooth flow of blood through the blood vessels.

In addition, researchers at Korea University College of Medicine discovered that capsaicin might inhibit platelet aggregation and reduce fat accumulation caused by increased plasma levels of free fatty acids. This lowers the risk of plaque formation, which could otherwise disrupt normal blood flow.

Capsaicin may also lower LDL cholesterol levels while raising HDL cholesterol.

If you want to use cayenne to improve your blood flow and circulation, add a dash of it to any meal and make sure not to overdo it because too much cayenne can cause stomach irritation and digestive problems.

4. Pomegranate

We’ve all heard that pomegranates are super healthy, and that’s because they truly are. While it may seem like any fruit, it actually contains many beneficial antioxidants, which have been shown to increase blood flow and circulation by as much as 50%.

split pomegranate

One study found that consuming 1000 milligrams of pomegranate extract 30 minutes before physical exercise enhanced blood vessel dilatation, improved blood flow, and improved overall exercise performance.

Another study found that daily consumption of 500 MLS of pomegranate juice reduced muscle injury, inflammation, and soreness after a weight lifting training session.

For best results, eat at least three servings of pomegranate fruit or its juice per week.

5. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a powerful spice known for regulating blood sugar levels and improving insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes. It, however, offers numerous more benefits, including the ability to increase blood flow and promote circulation.

glass bowl of ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks on wood

Cinnamon may particularly help blood vessels dilate and widen, which makes it easier for blood to flow throughout your body. It also relaxes blood vessels which lowers blood pressure and promotes overall circulation.

In a 12 week study involving patients with type 2 diabetes, consuming 1200 mg of cinnamon resulted in a 3.4mmHg reduction in their systolic blood pressure.

A different study done in the lab found that when rats were fed 200 mg of body weight of cinnamon extract daily for eight weeks, they had better coronary artery blood flow and overall heart performance than a control group.

You can use cinnamon as a spice in savory dishes or consume it in supplement form. The recommended daily dosage is 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of a powdered extract per day.

6. Beets

Beets are high in nitrates, which promotes nitric oxide production from the endothelial walls of your blood vessels. Again, this promotes dilatation and relaxation of blood vessels, increasing blood flow to all parts of your body, including your brain, heart, skin, and muscles.

bunch of beets with greens attached on white background

Beets are also high in vitamins A, C, K, and B6, folate, potassium, manganese, copper, dietary fiber, and antioxidants which help fight inflammation, prevent oxidation, and promote overall health.

Beets are best consumed when raw; you can add them to salads or even juice them. This delicious root vegetable can also be steamed with other vegetables. Try it grated into sauces, roasted, or sautéed as a side dish.

7. Turmeric

Categorized as a superfood for its numerous health benefits, turmeric is one of the most powerful herbs to improve circulation and reduce inflammation.

Actually, turmeric has traditionally been used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine to unclog blood vessels and improve circulation. Its active ingredient, curcumin, can be used topically or taken internally.  

Like beets, curcumin increases the production of nitric oxide, which in turn facilitates improved blood flow and circulation.

A 12 week study found that daily consumption of 2000mg of curcumin had a 36 percent and 37 percent increase in the upper arm and forearm blood flow, respectively.

8. Citrus fruits

Fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits are rich in a compound called hesperidin, which has been shown to help improve blood flow by relaxing and opening up blood vessels.

In one study, drinking 500 MLS of red-orange juice per day for a week resulted in arterial dilatation with reduced inflammatory markers compared to the control group.

assorted whole and cut citrus fruits

They are also rich in vitamin C, a crucial nutrient for healthy blood vessels, as it’s a potent antioxidant that can fight inflammation. Researchers have discovered that women who consume enough Vitamin C, particularly from citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, can lower their risk of heart disease by half.

In addition, some citrus fruits like oranges contain pectin, a soluble fiber that may reduce cholesterol levels (and help lower your risk of heart disease).

Other citrus fruits like grapefruit and lemon may also help lower blood pressure and the risk of developing stroke.

Eat these fruits whole or drink freshly squeezed juice daily to improve circulation.

9. Walnuts

Walnuts are not only a delicious addition to your meals, but they’re also good for improving your blood flow and circulation.

scattered walnuts on wood

They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower triglycerides, blood pressure, and inflammation, thus improving blood flow. These fatty acids have also been shown to reduce heart disease by reducing plaque buildup in arteries and preventing abnormal heart rhythms.

In one study, a daily intake of 56 grams of walnuts for eight weeks increased blood flow more than in a control group.

You can include some walnuts in salads, smoothies, or baked goods. You can also add them to a stir fry at dinner or snack on them throughout the day.

10. Ginger

This root, found in many Asian dishes, is well known for its anti-inflammatory powers. Ginger has been shown to improve circulation by inhibiting platelet aggregation and reducing inflammation. It can be used fresh or dried as a spice in food or made into tea.

This versatile root is commonly used in various cuisines throughout the world. However, it has numerous medicinal properties, one of which is improving circulation. Ginger contains compounds that can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. One study found that ginger extract helped decrease muscle pain caused by exercise. And when you’re exercising, improving circulation can keep your body moving more freely.

11. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed with lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that protects against damage to blood vessels and helps regulate blood pressure. They are also rich in vitamin C, another powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient that improves blood flow, fights inflammation, and reduces stiffness within the vessels.

bowl of plum tomato with half on top

Final thoughts on foods that increase blood flow:

Blood vessels carry blood throughout the body, and their health directly affects your blood flow and circulation. When you eat foods that improve circulation, you’re improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke.

These may include cayenne pepper, onion, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, tomatoes, ginger, walnuts, citrus fruits, pomegranates, and beets.

However, it’s essential to address the various causes of poor blood flow individually. If all you need is to stop smoking, eat a healthy diet, and frequently exercise, ensure you’re doing that. However, in case of any medical condition or medications, seek further guidelines from your doctor. Nonetheless, these foods can still improve your circulation and boost overall health and wellbeing.

Other related articles:

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  2. Signs of Mental Exhaustion
  3. Vitamins and Minerals to Boost Metabolism
  4. 10 Foods That Boost The Immune System
  5. How To Stay Healthy In Winter?
  6. Vegan Brain Booster Foods

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