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7 Ways to Increase Blood Circulation: Foods That Improve Blood Flow

Updated on July 31, 2012

Millions of people are suffering from poor blood circulation in North America today. Common symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, cold hands and feet even in warm weather, shortness of breath, numbness and tingling in fingers and toes and leg pain when walking. Proper circulation is essential for adequate oxygen delivery to cells and for removal of carbon dioxide and various waste products. Poor circulation can lead to more serious health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. Leading causes of poor blood circulation include lack of exercise, excess weight, a poor diet and smoking.

Food has a profound effect on the circulatory system. Eating unhealthy foods severely inhibit circulation, while healthy foods improve it. The key to healthy blood circulation is healthy blood vessel tone. Just like a sedentary lifestyle leads to poor muscle tone, a poor diet leads to poor blood vessel tone. Poorly toned blood vessels force the heart to work harder to pump blood, which increases the risk of heart attack.

Making the appropriate diet changes will lead to good circulation. Foods and beverages to be avoided include soft drinks, caffeinated drinks, alcohol, fast foods, processed foods, refined foods and foods high in fat and sugar.

Fast food is particularly harmful to healthy circulation. It is one of the major causes for a condition known as endothelial dysfunction. Proper circulation depends upon the release of chemicals from endothelial cells found on the walls of blood vessels. These chemicals cause blood vessels to dilate and constrict in order to regulate blood flow. Endothelial dysfunction is also responsible for male sexual impotency.

A study was conducted by the University of Maryland School of Medicine which compared the effects of consuming a fast food breakfast high in trans-fats and refined carbohydrates and sugars, with and without antioxidants. When the meal was consumed without antioxidants, a significant and rapid decline in normal blood flow and blood vessel tone was measured. The changes lasted up to four hours. When the meal was eaten with 1000mg of vitamin C and 800 IU of vitamin E the changes were prevented.

A high fiber diet is will help to balance blood cholesterol levels. Consume foods such as fish and nuts, rich in healthy fats to replace artery clogging trans fats found in commercially made fast foods, processed foods and baked goods. The B vitamins are effective in improving circulation. Foods high in vitamin B include beans, chili peppers, lentils, potatoes and molasses. A vitamin B complex supplement should be taken if you are not getting enough B complex from food.

Dehydration effects many people in North America. Symptoms often are not apparent. It’s important to drink at least 8, eight ounce glasses of a healthy beverage daily. Even slight dehydration will thicken blood and make the heart work harder to push it through blood vessels.

A number of supplements have found to be effective in restoring normal blood circulation.

Vitamin C - improves blood vessel tone and combined with vitamin E improves endothelial function.

Vitamin E - Improves blood vessel tone and combined with vitamin C improves endothelial function.

L-Arginine - Helps to regulate endothelial functions which in turn treats erectile dysfunction. L-Arginine function may be enhanced when taken with vitamin C.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid - A recent study has shown that 300mg of alpha-lipoic acid daily increases endothelial function by almost 50 percent.

Garlic - Aged garlic extracts have been found to reduce endothelial dysfunction by 44 percent.

Flavonoids - found in fruits and vegetables are effective in improving blood vessel tone


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    • profile image

      brain clear 5 years ago

      just remember always check out the toxic level of a supplement and go from there. most of what is being talked about is food. so probably your safe to a large extent

    • profile image

      lulu 6 years ago

      it doesn't tell you how much(mg) of these vitamins to take daily, that's the info I really need:(

    • profile image

      charlie 6 years ago

      Thanks for the tips. I had been worried about my "brain fog" - lapses in my semantic memory. I had been searching for info. on the neurological side of things, and it hadn't occurred to me that it might be a circulation problem until I read your page and found that I also suffer from several other symptoms of poor circulation. I am looking forward to trying some of these tips. So much better than an MRI, like another site suggested!

    • profile image

      GoodInfo 6 years ago

      @honey - they make cayenne capsules that won't burn your throat.

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      honey  6 years ago

      yeah, great info. i am going to increase the levels of vit i take because i kno i don't get enough. the cayenne pepper burns my throat though are they any other alternatives? thanks again so much.

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      DietConscious 6 years ago

      Cayenne pepper is said to be the number 1 herb for increasing blood circulation and for preventing and treating a heart attack. Apparently an excellent way to obtain the health benefits of cayenne pepper is to place a teaspoon or two of dried cayenne pepper powder in a warm glass of water and drink it as tea. Plus, the hotter (spicy hot, not temperature hot) the cayenne pepper, the better! So start drinking (and crying).

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 7 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Very well written and informative. I hate fast food and feel that it ruins our health. The aged garlic extracts sound like a good choice. I will try to find them, as I have poor circulation.

    • billysgomez profile image

      billysgomez 7 years ago

      Good info man! Now I can make better decision on which food to eat the best.

    • edguider profile image

      edguider 7 years ago

      L-Arginine, hmmm good one. Going to add that to my list of products that help Erectile Dysfunction.

    • BeiYin profile image

      BeiYin 7 years ago from Ibiza Spain

      Not only in North America people are suffering the consequences of their materialistic modern life style and eating habits. It is spreading out all over the world. What is the cause of such self destructive blind behavior? And even people know how bad it is, they continue with it! What makes this 'way of life' so addictive? Is it because it numbs people? And so they don't need to question themselves? Or is it specific for the species, that destroy themselves if the evolution is stuck, like lemmings? Or is suffering the only way that a very few might wake up?

      So wouldn't it be the best and most efficient to find out the reason for this behavior and then maybe find a solution to change it?

    • DevinG profile image

      DevinG 7 years ago from Redlands

      Good tips, thanks! Everyday I take my daily multivitamin (chewable) and I stay away from the fast food. It's crazy what fast food does to your system.