Thick blood, hypercoagulability, is a condition where your blood is thicker and sticker than normal and is due to an abnormality in the blood clotting process. When your blood is too thick, it affects the circulation of oxygen, nutrients and hormones in the blood and can cause nutritional deficiencies as well as low levels of oxygen or a condition known as hypoxia. Having thick blood can also lead to heart attacks and strokes. Many people are treated with blood thinning medications called anticoagulants such as Coumadin, also known as warfarin, though there are foods that can also help to thin your blood naturally.
Foods to Eat
The vitamins and nutrients in certain foods act as natural blood thinners. Vegetable oils, nuts and some cereals contain vitamin E, which is a natural blood thinner, according to the Institutes of Health. You should avoid high doses because too much vitamin E can cause the blood to become too thin and cause a hemorrhagic stroke or bleeding in the brain. Other foods containing salicylates, the blood thinning property in aspirin, work as natural blood thinners. These foods include various fruits and vegetables, nuts and meats. Blueberries, fresh pineapple and tomatoes are all high in salicylates, according to Saraband Health.
Foods to Avoid
If you are trying to thin your blood, it is important to avoid foods that contain vitamin K. Vitamin K is necessary for the body to form clots and it is used to thicken the blood. Vitamin K can be found in many different foods such as kale, spinach, turnip greens and broccoli. The daily recommended intake of vitamin K is 80 mcgs and many of these foods contain far more than that in a single serving. For example, 1/2-cup of kale contains 660 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin K so it is important to limit these foods.
If you believe you have thick blood or are at risk of clots, it is important to consult your physician and have your blood tested. If it comes back that you do need to thin your blood, your doctor may need to go further than advising a diet change and prescribe a blood thinning agent like coumadin. Coumadin and heparin are the two main prescription anticoagulants, which physicians sometimes prescribe to thin the blood and prevent the development of clots that could lead to a stroke, according to the American Heart Association.
Many foods contain natural anticoagulation and blood thinning properties; thus, some patients are able to thin their blood without the need for medication. If your doctor sanctions this course of action, he will require regular blood tests to monitor whether your clotting properties remain diminished and your blood indeed thinned. Based on the test results, he will adjust your treatment regimen as necessary.
Is This an Emergency?
- Cleveland Clinic: What You Need to Know About Hypercoagulable States
- The Internet Stroke Center: Anticoagulants
- American Heart Association: Anticoagulants
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin E
- Saraband Health: Low--Salicylate Diet
- National Institutes of Health: Coumadin and Vitamin K
- MedlinePlus: Vitamin K
- Everyday With ADHD: Salicylate Food Chart