Poor circulation is a common problem that can be caused by several conditions. Reduced blood flow can result in numbness, coldness in extremities, muscle cramps, digestive issues, poor complexion, fatigue, and brain fog. Most circulatory conditions are treated with prescription medications that can cause a whole host of undesired side effects. Turning to whole foods and herbs can be a great natural alternative to medication. In this article, we’re diving into the top foods to help improve circulation and blood flow.
14 Foods to Improve Circulation & Blood Flow
Low-sugar fruits like strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries are delicious food options to help increase blood circulation. They are jam-packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that positively affect blood flow and circulation. When our bodies experience chronic inflammation, it can have a negative impact on blood vessels, raising blood pressure and causing circulatory issues.
Research found that consuming berries lowered heart rate, blood pressure, platelet aggregation, and blood levels while improving artery dilatation.
If you like a little spice with your meals, consider swapping out a sugar-filled hot sauce with cayenne pepper.
This spice gets its heat from a phytochemical called capsaicin, which promotes blood flow to the tissues by lowering blood pressure and stimulating the release of nitric oxide, among other vasodilators (compounds that expand blood vessels) (2).
Studies show that consuming cayenne pepper increases circulation, reduces plaque buildup, and increases blood vessel strength (3). Even more, cayenne is often a common ingredient found in topical pain-relieving creams to help encourage blood flow to the infected area.
As a warming spice, cinnamon can increase blood flow. Research shows that the sweet and spicy bark can reduce blood pressure in humans by relaxing blood vessels, helping to improve circulation, and support heart health.
One study looked at 59 people with type 2 diabetes. Each subject was given 1,200 mg of cinnamon per day and saw a reduction in systolic blood pressure by an average of 3.4 mmHG after 12 weeks.
In animal studies, cinnamon improved blood flow and blood vessel dilation in the coronary artery, which supplies the heart with blood.
Like cinnamon, ginger is another warming spice known to help increase blood flow and circulation to the body’s extremities.
High blood pressure has a negative impact on blood flow, and in studies, ginger has been shown to reduce high blood pressure.
Another study found that the people who consumed the most ginger (2-4 grams per day) had the lowest risk of developing high blood pressure.
Read more about the potent health benefits of ginger, including joint pain relief, cancer protection, and brain health.
Gotu Kola is an herbal plant that can be found in tinctures, teas, and capsules. Pegged as the “herb of longevity,” Gotu kola is a staple in traditional Chinese medicine and is well-known for its ability to help with varicose veins.
Poor circulation, sitting and standing too often, and aging are some of the causes of varicose veins.
Gotu kola not only efficiently reduces swelling and improves blood flow but also stimulates collagen and elastin production. Its chemical compound Centella asiatica or TTFCA can strengthen the connective tissues that are necessary for the strength of the internal lining and walls of veins.
Greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens are high in nitrates, which our bodies convert into the potent vasodilator nitric oxide. Consuming nitrate-rich foods like leafy greens daily can help improve circulation and blood flow.
One study looked at subjects who consumed spinach daily for seven days and saw significant improvements in blood flow and blood pressure compared to the control group.
More research found that those who follow a traditional Chinese diet high in nitrate-rich vegetables like cabbage have a decreased risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure than those who consume a typical Western diet.
If you don’t like to eat your greens, we created a supplement for you! Check out our Organic Immunity Greens powder supplement. It’s the most delicious and easy way to get your greens in.
Olive leaf, which can be consumed in a tea, can significantly lower blood pressure and help maintain it at a healthy level. Its powerful compound Oleuropein helps prevent the constriction of arteries while increasing blood flow and improving heart function and health. It can also help lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
Olive leaf’s anti-inflammatory compounds, in addition to its high nitrate levels, also help to reduce swelling and improve circulation in the body, helping to remove excess acidity and toxins.
You can find olive leaf extract online or at your local health food store in an extract, tincture, phyto-cap, capsule, or tea form.
Onions are a must-have veg in our house. We add them to just about everything and that’s because they are incredible for immunity. But guess what, they’re also amazing for circulation.
Onions improve circulation by increasing the size of arteries and veins when blood flow increases. They are also a great source of flavonoid antioxidants, which are great for heart health.
One study looked at 23 men who took 4.3 grams of onion extract daily for 30 days and found significantly improved blood flow and artery dilation after meals.
Because onions are also anti-inflammatory, they boost heart health by reducing inflammation markers in veins and arteries (7).
Pomegranates are high in nitrates, which we know are powerful vasodilators, helping to increase blood flow, blood vessel diameter, and more.
Research shows that pomegranates may improve oxygenation of muscle tissue, which is fabulous for those who are especially active. One study looked at 19 active people and found that consuming 1,000 mg of pomegranate extract 30 minutes before working out increased blood vessel diameter, blood flow, and exercise performance (8).
Known as the “medicine of kings” and the mushroom of longevity, reishi is a powerhouse when it comes to supporting the nervous system and stress—but also increasing blood flow.
This mushroom is amazing for cardiovascular health because it can dilate the coronary artery, increase blood flow to the heart, improve circulation in the cardiac muscle capillaries, and even help correct arrhythmia!
Reishi can even help prevent high blood pressure and lower blood pressure to help prevent blood clots.
Although reishi isn’t an edible mushroom, you can steep some in hot water to make a tea or find a liquid extract or powder to supplement with this medicinal food daily.
One reason why I love rosemary essential oil is because it has the ability to stimulate memory, overcome mental fatigue, and promote concentration. This is all due to its ability to increase blood flow to the brain (10)!
Rosemary herb in your roasted chicken and soups can do the same!
The herb is also a rich source of anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants, which also play a beneficial role in helping increase circulation.
To learn more about the potent benefits of rosemary essential oil and how you can use it in your daily life, check out this article!
Turmeric has a wide variety of health benefits and has been used as a healing medicine for thousands of years. Both traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have used turmeric to open blood vessels and improve blood circulation (11).
The chemical compound curcumin found in turmeric can increase nitric oxide production, decrease inflammation, and reduce oxidative stress—all of which help increase blood flow. One study found that taking 2,000 mg of curcumin daily for 12 weeks increased forearm blood flow by 37 percent and upper arm blood flow by 36 percent.
To learn about the other top 9 science-backed health benefits of turmeric, check out this article!
Angiotensin-converting enzyme or ACE causes blood vessels to constrict. Research shows that tomato extract works in a similar way as ACE-inhibiting drugs, helping to open up blood vessels and increase flow.
Walnuts are another great food that helps to stimulate nitric oxide production. Research shows that eating walnuts may improve blood vessel size and function and reduce blood pressure.
Walnuts are a great snack option for those with diabetes, as people with diabetes often have circulation issues and high blood pressure as a result of uncontrolled glucose levels (14).
One study looked at 24 people with diabetes. Those who ate 2 ounces of walnuts per day for eight weeks saw significant improvements in blood flow compared to the control group.
Now that you have a long list of the top foods to improve circulation and blood flow, which are you most excited to add to your grocery list? Let me know in the comments below.