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Are There Foods That Cause Dilated Blood Vessels?

author image Nadia Haris
Nadia Haris is a registered radiation therapist who has been writing about nutrition for more than six years. She is completing her Master of Science in nutrition with a focus on the dietary needs of oncology patients.
Are There Foods That Cause Dilated Blood Vessels?
A bowl of fresh blueberries. Photo Credit BrianAJackson/iStock/Getty Images

Eating a balanced diet helps to keep your heart and blood vessels healthy. Certain nutrients help to relax and dilate the vascular system -- your arteries, veins and capillaries. The American Heart Association advises that eating foods that have this beneficial effect on your blood vessels may reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Antioxidant-Rich Berries

Berries and other fruits that are rich in antioxidants called polyphenols may help to dilate your arteries. An animal study published in 2009 in the "Journal of Medicinal Food" reported that cranberry juice had relaxing effects on the arteries similar to those of red wine. Another study from 2005 noted that blueberries helped improve the elasticity of arteries in rats. The antioxidants found in these foods may have health benefits, but further clinical studies are needed to determine whether they have similar effects on people and the dosage required to relax blood vessels.

Foods With Potassium

Research published in the "American Journal of Physiology" in 2007 found that high-potassium diets may help dilate blood vessels and reduce your risk of stroke. Although the results are not conclusive and further study is needed, it is important to get adequate potassium in your diet. Adults should get 4.7 grams per day, while pregnant women require 5.1 grams of potassium per day. Good sources of this mineral include bananas, potatoes, avocados, cantaloupes, tomatoes, lima beans, salmon, cod, chicken and orange juice.

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