As FlavaFans, we know you know all about the amazing impact cocoa flavanols have on brain function, cardio health and skin wellness, and how these benefits are driven by increasing circulation from head to toe.
In a recent article, Dr. Stephen Sinatra of the HeartMD Institute identifies foods that enhance blood flow and circulation. Perhaps not surprisingly, the list includes one of our favorites: dark chocolate! Check out the full list below, and read more about how each of these foods benefit circulation, as well as a few foods that harm circulation.
The Best Foods for Improving Circulation
- Cold-Water Fish: Cold-water fish like salmon, cod, mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which benefit the heart and circulatory system as well as reduce inflammation in your body.
- Nuts: Magnesium and L-arginine are two powerful nutrients that improve circulation. Opt for raw and unsalted whenever possible for maximum nutritional benefit.
- Oranges: Vitamin C benefits the circulatory system – specifically, thousands of capillaries that carry blood from arteries to cells. Any foods high in vitamin C like oranges, strawberries, bell peppers, lemons & more are an excellent choice.
- Garlic: Allicin, a key component of garlic, is known to help arteries dilate. Garlic has been linked to lower blood pressure across many studies (and many decades), but unfortunately for your breath, it’s best to consume in its raw state.
- Beets: Beets are rich in nitrate, which converts to nitric oxide in the body and helps dilate arteries. This in turn stimulates circulation and promotes healthy blood flow.
- Dark Chocolate: Our favorite! Can you blame us? Cocoa flavanols found in dark chocolate are potent antioxidants that promote healthy blood flow, especially when consumed on a daily basis. Read more about the benefits of cocoa flavanols here.
The Worst Foods for Improving Circulation
- Added sugars: Consuming too much sugar triggers inflammation within your body and may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes harms circulation due to high levels of glucose within arteries and veins, which makes them brittle less able to function properly over time.
- Trans Fats: By now, you probably know that you should stay away from trans fats – they’re terrible for your circulatory health!
- Excessive Salt: Sodium is actually essential to heart health and only becomes an issue when it’s consumed in excess. When you consume too much sodium, your body retains water. The more water in your system, the greater your blood volume and the higher your blood pressure. If you’re looking to reduce your sodium intake, cut down on highly processed foods and cook more at home so you can control the amounts of salt in your food.