Usually caused by plaque buildup in the arteries, poor circulation -- inadequate blood flow -- can lead to insufficient oxygen levels in the body. It can be a symptom of many different medical conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and sickle cell anemia. Smokers are also at risk of poor circulation due to oxidative stress. Eating a healthy diet with many fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds will give you the nutrients you need to protect your body from poor circulation.
Vitamin C-Rich Foods
A 2004 study published in the "American Heart Journal" found that when smokers were administered vitamin C, the speed of their blood circulation increased. Vitamin C is responsible for the production and repair of blood vessels, which is important for blood circulation. Vitamin C is found in most fruits and vegetables. Reach for ripe citrus fruits, kiwi, mango, berries and melons, and eat more green vegetables and tomatoes to increase the vitamin C in your diet.
Vitamin E-Rich Foods
Increasing your intake of vitamin E will also improve circulation because it widens blood vessels and prevents blood clotting. In a 2003 study, Nigerian scientists found that vitamin E supplementation increased blood flow and lowered blood pressure in healthy participants. Vegetable oils and green leafy vegetables are major sources of vitamin E, in addition to almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds.
Foods With Omega 3s
In a 1992 study published in "Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental," researchers found that introducing omega-3 fatty acids to rats in the form of fish oil increased blood flow to the liver. While saturated fats cause plaque buildup in the arteries and decrease blood circulation, omega-3 fatty acids actually improve blood circulation and prevent heart disease. According to an article published in the journal "Nutrients" in 2010, the best source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids is seafood. Specifically, striped perch fish were found to have the highest amounts, followed by Atlantic salmon, barramundi and silver perch. Shellfish, prawns and lobster also contain omega-3 fats but are much less potent sources than fish.
Vitamin B Foods
B vitamins are known to play important roles in cell metabolism. A 2011 study published in "Coronary Artery Disease" found that two years of daily supplementation with folic acid and vitamin B-12 increased blood circulation in heart disease patients. Folic acid is a B vitamin found naturally in foods as folate. Folate is present in leafy greens, peanuts, dried beans and peas. B-12 is found abundantly in fish, meat, eggs and dairy. Increasing your intake of these foods daily can promote better circulation in the long term.