Your body relies on healthy blood circulation to provide the continuous supply of nutrients and oxygen it needs to survive. The circulatory system is composed of the heart and blood vessels, including arteries, veins, and capillaries. Circulatory system diseases, such as atherosclerosis (hardening of your artery walls) prevent healthy blood flow and put you at risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and coronary heart disease. Various factors, particularly activity level and food choices, affect the health of the circulatory system.
Here are three big changes you can make to improve the health of your circulatory system.
#1) Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
As far as I’m concerned, fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of a diet that’s beneficial to the blood circulation. As you’ve probably heard, fruits and vegetables contain many nutrients that benefit the circulatory system, including fiber, potassium and vitamin C.
What you may not have heard is how these nutrients benefit the circulatory system. Vitamin C provides structural support for your blood vessel walls, protecting you from ruptures that impede healthy blood circulation.
Potassium plays a role in every heartbeat. A hundred thousand times a day, potassium helps trigger your heart to squeeze blood through your body. It also helps your kidneys filter blood.
Dietary fiber reduces blood cholesterol levels, which may lower risk of heart disease.
One meta-analysis, which is a review of several studies, found consuming at least five serving of fruits and vegetables daily helps lower your heart attack risk by approximately 15%. Fruits and vegetables also lower your blood pressure, which helps relieve strain on your blood vessels.
#2) Eat Less Processed Foods
To help support healthy blood circulation, avoid processed foods. Processed foods come packed with sodium, a mineral that increases your blood pressure—increasing the strain on your blood vessel walls—and contributes to cardiovascular disease. Processed foods can also contain artificial trans fat (or trans fatty acids), a type of fat that raises your bad (LDL) cholesterol and lowers your good (HDL) cholesterol. Read the ingredients list on packaged foods and avoid products made with partially hydrogenated oils, which contain trans fats.
#3) Eat More Monounsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Oils rich in monounsaturated fats also contribute vitamin E to the diet, an antioxidant that’s essential for circulatory health. Good sources of monounsaturated fat include olive oil, avocados, sunflower seed butter, almond butter, cashew butter, and many nuts and seeds.
Bottom Line: Keep your ticker healthy by making a few simple changes. Start small and gradually implement more changes as you adopt them.
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods