Poor circulation refers to the body’s decreased ability to send blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the organs, tissues, and systems that need these substances to function. This can lead to symptoms that include pain, muscle cramps, tingling, and numbness, particularly in the extremities. Over time, according to the Minnesota Vein Center, poor circulation can cause health complications like varicose veins, peripheral vascular disease, and blood clots. Incorporating these foods into your diet can help improve your circulation and lower the risk for more serious health problems.
Chocolate with at least 72 percent cocoa has beneficial effects on circulation. It’s loaded with antioxidants that help lower levels of blood pressure and cholesterol. It also contains nitric oxide, which relaxes the arteries to protect the circulatory system and improve blood flow.
This crunchy green vegetable supports both healthy blood flow and healthy clotting thanks to its rich supply of vitamin K. It also contains electrolytes that help the body flush out waste.
Salmon and other fatty fishes are rich in omega-3 fatty acid. This important nutrient helps prevent plaque build-up in the arteries that can slow blood flow, lowers the levels of unhealthy triglycerides in the blood, and has an anti-clotting effect that improves circulation.
Like salmon, walnuts include omega-3 fatty acids; they’re also rich in other heart-healthy nutrients such as folate, vitamin E, and fiber. Nutrition experts recommend eating at least five ounces of walnuts each day. If walnuts aren’t your favorite, you can substitute almonds, which also have high omega-3 levels.
Do you like it hot? Eating cayenne pepper strengthens the blood vessels and arteries that carry blood, oxygen, and nutrients throughout the body. While this spicy ingredient is traditionally added to meats, curries, and stews, you can also add just a pinch to a sweet smoothie to get the benefits of pepper without the heat.
Oats are a heart-healthy food that act as a sponge to absorb cholesterol from the blood. This prevents the development of plaque that can hamper circulation. Choose old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats rather than instant varieties, which are high in sugar. In addition to oatmeal, strive to get plenty of whole grains including bread and pasta.
Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries include compounds called flavonoids that dilate blood vessels and lower blood pressure, both of which improve circulation.
If you’re concerned about your circulation, talk with your doctor. He or she can recommend treatments that can help ward off complications.