Vein Institute of NJ - Helpful Articles

Understanding How Nutrition Affects Blood Flow

March is National Nutrition Month. Understanding the correlation between eating proper foods and its affects on vascular health is an important topic for us to discuss.

Let's talk about some of causes of poor circulation and 6 foods that can help improve this vascular issue.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD), diabetes, obesity, and smoking are some of the many causes of poor circulation. Blood is like your body’s superhighway. It carries nutrients and oxygen to everything from your heart and brain to your muscles and skin.

A healthy diet is one way to optimize your circulation, or blood flow. Although circulatory issues are often treated with medications and therapeutic interventions certain foods can help, too.

Here are 6 foods you should consider adding to your diet to help improve vascular health:


This red pepper not only can spice up your food, but thanks to a compound called capsaicin, cayenne pepper can help your arteries work well. It can also help relax the muscles in your blood vessels and stimulating the release of nitric oxide and other vasodilators — compounds that help expand your blood vessels.


This is another food that enables your body to convert a beet’s rich nitrates to nitric oxide. A lot athletes even use beet juice to lower their systolic blood pressure before an event.


This golden spice has become quite popular recently. Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which comes from the curcumin compound, Turmeric can make it easier for blood to flow to your muscles and other tissues.


If you’re looking for an excuse to eat these juicy and sweet fruits, you’re in luck! Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and even cranberries, to name a few, are rich in antioxidants thanks in part to anthocyanin. It’s a compound that gives red and purple fruits that deep-colored hue. Anthocyanin can help protect the walls of your arteries from damage and keep them from becoming stiff.


And going from a berry feast to a nut treat, walnuts are a great choice. These types of nuts are rich in alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid, which may help blood move smoothly and improve blood vessel health by keeping them more elastic.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, and halibut are full of omega-3 fatty acids. Studies suggest that these compounds are good for your circulation. Eating fish not only lowers your blood pressure; it can help keep your arteries clear and unclogged, too. A recent study found high doses of fish oil — 4.2 grams daily for four weeks — significantly improved blood flow to the legs after exercise.

While there are many natural ways to improve circulation, such as some of the foods mentioned here to improve blood flow due to their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and nitrate properties, other lifestyle changes are also important to follow. Eating properly and following some of these recommendations can all work towards improving your vascular health:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Exercising regularly
  • Losing weight
  • Staying hydrated
  • Reducing stress 

Looking to evaluate your personal vascular health? Consult with one of our board-certified vascular doctors today. Keeping you healthy and informed is one of the most important things we do at The Cardiovascular Care Group!


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