Supplements and exercise are logical ways to enhance circulation and protect your arteries. But what you put in your mouth matters, too. The food you eat can have a profound effect on your circulatory system. In fact, eating unhealthy fats and refined foods can severely inhibit blood flow. Case in point: In a 2006 Australian study, researchers found that eating just one fatty meal negatively affects blood flow and diminishes HDL’s protective qualities (as a refresher, HDL, known as the “good cholesterol,” is important because it carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver).
Adopting a healthy diet based on whole foods, however, can help protect your circulatory system and reduce your risk of developing atherosclerosis and other vascular problems. Check out this handy “cheat sheet” of what you should be eating for optimal circulation.
Color Your Plate with a Variety of Veggies
Packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, brightly colored vegetables are important to include in each meal and snack. One serving of cooked vegetables equals one-half cup, while a serving of raw vegetables comes in at one cup. Best options:
- Cooked tomatoes
- Spinach and Kale
- Red peppers
Focus on Fruits
Eat at least two cups each day. The following are especially artery-friendly:
Pick Lean Protein
Trade in that fatty ribeye for one of the following, and aim to include 3 to 4 ounces of healthy protein in every meal:
- Beans, lentils, peas
- Chicken breast
- Egg whites
- Whey protein
Choose Whole Grains
Foods made with whole grains contain more fiber and nutrients than those made with refined grains. Good choices include:
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat breads and pastas
Opt for the Right Fats
The type of fat you eat can be just as important as the amount of fat you eat. Research suggests that monounsaturated fats from vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids from fish and flaxseed are the healthiest fats for your circulatory system.
- Choose foods containing monounsaturated fats, like nuts, seeds, and avocado
- Use monounsaturated oils such as olive or peanut oil for cooking
- Limit saturated fat. You should obtain less than seven percent of your daily calories from saturated fats
What About Sugar?
Sugar—often listed on labels as sucrose or high fructose corn syrup—doesn’t just pack on the pounds. It also damages your vascular system by triggering inflammation, increasing triglycerides, and driving down HDL levels. Based on recent studies, the American Heart Association now recommends limiting your intake of added sugar to no more than 150 calories daily. But don’t rush out and throw out all of your candy quite yet. A recent study in the journal Circulation found that the flavonoids in dark chocolate improve circulation. Flavonoids are naturally occurring antioxidants that may help lower blood pressure and decrease cholesterol, both of which are factors that contribute to endothelial dysfunction. Just make sure you bypass that Snickers bar in favor of no more than one ounce of dark chocolate that contains at least 60 percent cacao.
The right supplement can also help if you’ve been diagnosed with or are at higher risk of atherosclerosis or some other circulatory problem. We recommend trying Kyolic Formula 106, which contains Aged Garlic Extract, Vitamin E, Hawthorn Berry and Cayenne Pepper, designed to help maintain healthy circulation, normal cholesterol levels already within normal ranges and overall heart health.*
Take advantage of these tips to keep your blood flowing optimally for a lifetime!
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.