Healthy blood flow carries oxygen, nutrients and disease-fighting immune cells throughout your body. Poor circulation due to fatty plaques and blood clots can slow healing and raise your risk of heart disease and stroke. Adding foods such as garlic and whole grains to your diet can help keep your blood vessels healthy and improve circulation.
Garlic Improves Blood Flow
Garlic is a natural blood thinner that can improve blood flow to your limbs. In a 2004 article, the "Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry" reported that researchers gave healthy volunteers a daily dose of 600 milligrams of garlic supplements for seven days. Blood samples from the treatment group showed that blood flow in their calf muscles improved significantly after taking garlic. This is particularly important for individuals with varicose veins or clots in their arteries. Whole garlic has similar benefits. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends eating 2 to 4 grams of fresh, minced garlic cloves per day. If you are taking any medication, consult your doctor before using garlic therapeutically.
Fiber Helps Reduce Cholesterol
Blood circulation throughout your body can be hindered by the buildup of waxy plaques inside your arteries. Reducing your blood cholesterol levels can help improve your artery and heart health. The National Institutes of Health recommends eating a diet that contains less than 200 milligrams of cholesterol per day. Foods that are high in soluble fiber can help you achieve this goal by limiting how much cholesterol your body absorbs. These foods include whole grains such oats; fruit such as apples, oranges, bananas and pears; and legumes such as lentils, kidney beans and chick peas.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Thin the Blood
Adding fish to your weekly diet gives you essential omega-3 fatty acids, including docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA. This healthy fat helps to lower unhealthy fats called triglycerides in the blood, reduce blood pressure, thin the blood and reduce your risk of blood clots. Good sources of DHA are fatty fish such as salmon, trout, herring, sardines and albacore tuna. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends eating two to three servings of fatty fish per week, which is equivalent to a dose of 1,250 milligrams of DHA per day.
Ginseng for Improved Circulation
In traditional healing, herbs are commonly used as food supplements to improve blood circulation. Research published in the "Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine" reported that a therapeutic dose of Korean red ginseng can help improve blood circulation. The treatment group was given a daily dose of 1,500 milligrams of ginseng extract for eight weeks. Ginseng and other herbs are potent medicines and can cause adverse interactions and side effects; consult your doctor before taking them.
- Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry: Garlic Supplementation Increases Peripheral Blood Flow: A Role for Interleukin-6?
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Garlic
- National Institutes of Health: What Is Carotid Artery Disease?
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
- Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine: Study on Improving Blood Flow With Korean Red Ginseng Substances Using Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging and Doppler Sonography