A well-balanced diet is essential for good health. Feeding your body all of the nutrients it requires not only prevents illness and disease, but also keeps your body and organs running like an efficient machine.
Your blood flow is an important part of carrying all those nutrients and oxygen to where your body needs it. A healthy diet can help your blood circulation without medication.
Here are the 6 best foods to optimize blood flow.
Garlic is well known for its beneficial impact on circulation and heart health.
Studies suggest that garlic — specifically, its sulfur compounds, which include allicin — can increase tissue blood flow and lower blood pressure by relaxing your blood vessels (Source).
In fact, diets high in garlic are associated with better flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD), an indicator of blood flow efficiency.
In a study in 42 people with coronary artery disease, those who consumed garlic powder tablets containing 1,200 mg of allicin twice daily for 3 months experienced a 50% improvement in blood flow through the upper arm artery compared to a placebo group (Source).
Onions are an excellent source of flavonoid antioxidants, which benefit heart health (Source1, Source2).
This vegetable improves circulation by helping your arteries and veins widen when blood flow increases.
In an older, 30-day study in 23 males, taking 4.3 grams (g) of onion extract daily significantly improved blood flow and artery dilation after meals (Source).
Onions also have anti-inflammatory properties, which can boost blood flow and heart health by reducing inflammation in veins and arteries (Source).
Cayenne pepper gets its spicy flavor from a phytochemical called capsaicin.
Capsaicin promotes blood flow to tissues by lowering blood pressure and stimulating the release of nitric oxide and other vasodilators — or compounds that help expand your blood vessels (Source).
Vasodilators allow blood to flow more easily through your veins and arteries by relaxing the tiny muscles found in blood vessel walls.
Research indicates that ingesting cayenne pepper increases circulation, improves blood vessel strength, and reduces plaque buildup in your arteries (Source).
What’s more, these spicy peppers are frequently included in pain-relieving creams because they can encourage blood flow to the affected area (Source).
Increased blood flow is one of turmeric’s many health benefits.
In fact, both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine have utilized turmeric since ancient times to open blood vessels and improve blood circulation (Source).
Research suggests that a compound found in turmeric called curcumin helps increase nitric oxide production, reduce oxidative stress, and decrease inflammation.
In a study in 39 people, taking 2,000 mg of curcumin daily for 12 weeks led to a 37% increase in forearm blood flow and a 36% increase in upper arm blood flow (Source).
Walnuts are loaded with beneficial compounds, such as L-arginine, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and vitamin E — which all stimulate the production of nitric oxide (Source1, Source2).
According to one 2013 study, eating walnuts may reduce blood pressure, improve blood vessel function, and decrease inflammation, which may be particularly helpful for those with diabetes (Source).
People with diabetes often have circulation issues and high blood pressure due to blood vessel damage caused by uncontrolled blood sugar levels (Source).
In a study in 112 people at risk for diabetes, those who ate 2 oz. (56 g) of walnuts per day for 6 months experienced significant improvements in the function of the blood vessels compared to a control group (Source).
Leafy greens like spinach and collard greens are high in nitrates, which your body converts into nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator (Source).
Eating nitrate-rich foods may help improve circulation by dilating blood vessels, allowing your blood to flow more easily.
In one study in 27 people, those consuming high nitrate (845 mg) spinach daily for 7 days experienced significant improvements in blood pressure and blood flow compared to a control group (Source).
What’s more, research has observed that people following a traditional Japanese diet high in nitrate-rich vegetables like Chinese cabbage and spinach have lower blood pressure than those who consume a diet low in vegetables (Source1
Always check with your doctor first whether any medications you are taking may interact with the foods in your diet.
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