Are you perhaps considered at high risk for a heart attack?
Heart disorders and poor blood circulation claim the lives of millions worldwide every year, and statistics are pointing out to how the numbers are increasing. Our poor diet, unhealthy lifestyles and sedentary work is to blame; and there’s little we can do about it.
Thanks to long hours chained to desks and lengthy commutes, many of us end up becoming one with our couches once we finally get home and then drag our tired behinds to bed. But this sedentary lifestyle can lead to swelling in your calves, ankles and feet.
You may try to adopt a healthy lifestyle and may change your diet, but that may not be enough – you can always do with a little extra help. Certain foods and herbs and natural botanical extracts are an excellent way to boost your heart health and blood circulation naturally.
Why is circulation important?
Your circulatory system of arteries, veins and capillaries is a 60,000-mile super highway in which your blood hauls nutrients, water and oxygen to every single cell in your body…and it carries waste products out. If the road becomes blocked or narrows, traffic can back up or even grind to a halt. Besides cold hands and feet, poor circulation affects every organ in your body because each depends on a rich supply of oxygen and nutrients to thrive.
- Brain – poor circulation leads to fatigue, dizziness and poor memory
- Heart – poor circulation affects your ability to climb stairs or walk down the block without becoming winded
- Liver – poor circulation can cause lack of appetite and skin tone changes
- Kidneys – poor circulation can lead to swelling of feet and ankles
- Hands/Feet/Legs – poor circulation can cause cramping and varicose veins
The following foods and herbs are supposed to help healthy circulation:
You may have heard of this one – garlic has been in use since centuries when it comes to promoting heart health. The ancient Egyptians have discovered more than 200 uses of this herb, and even today, herbalists around the world use garlic as a natural preventive measure for a good number of heart conditions. A clove of garlic taken a day (preferably raw), can inhibit bad cholesterol and increase the level of good cholesterol in the body, thereby preventing heart disorders associated with higher blood cholesterol levels. Several studies have also revealed how garlic can be effective in normalizing the blood pressure, improving blood circulation and preventing blood platelet aggregation.
Cayenne is available as a fresh pepper or dried spice and has been associated with increasing metabolic rate and strengthening arteries and blood vessels. Cayenne pepper is best eaten raw in salads or juiced. A pinch to around half a teaspoon of this herb, taken daily, can prevent heart diseases and improve circulation and heart health.
Okay, this doesn’t mean you can munch on chocolate bars all day long- cacao extracts are known for their ability to improve blood pressure levels and give the body a good dose of magnesium- which is a powerful stress reliever. A number of studies have confirmed the effectiveness of cocoa extracts in warding away heart diseases, thanks to their antioxidant content, which fights free radical damage and protects against a wide range of cardiovascular disorders. Now you know why dark chocolate is an effective heart health booster- it is free from sugars and other additives that could have a negative impact on heart health.
Oranges and other citrus fruits high vitamin C are natural blood thinners and are said to strengthen capillary walls and prevent plaque build-up which leads to poor circulation.
Cocoa contains flavonoids which is naturally found in plants and fruits and has been well linked to improving blood circulation. A study published in the Circulation Journal showed that dark chocolate rich in natural flavonoids improved blood circulation when compared with white chocolate with no flavonoids.
Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E which is shown to help keep blood clots from forming. They are great at helping improve circulation. Likewise so are foods such as olives, nuts and pumpkin seeds,
Ginger is known for helping nausea and digestion problems as well as increasing blood circulation. Ginger can be eaten raw or added to foods or why not try ginger tea.
One of the world’s oldest surviving tree species, Ginkgo biloba dilates blood vessels and in doing so increases blood flow. It is also thought to increase blood flow to the brain.
Goji berries can be found in natural health stores and look similar to raisins. They are high in fibre to help boost the immune system as well as increasing blood circulation.
Watermelons are rich in lycopene which is a natural antioxidant linked to improving circulation. Lycopene is a natural pigment which gives certain foods their reddish colour. Tomatoes, pink grapefruit and apricots also contain lycopene.
Salmon and avocados:
Both salmon and avocados contain heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids which research has shown to support the cardiovascular system and increase blood circulation.
Olive Leaf Extract :
Olive Leaf Extract has been studied for its effect on blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which in turn may foster healthy blood flow to the extremities. The antioxidant properties of the herb can help to protect the circulation and the heart from damage caused by free radicals.
This popular herb grows over much of Europe and is a distant cousin of the American blueberry. The leaves and berries have been used in traditional herbal medicine for hundreds of years. Although bilberry is best known for its vision benefits, it also works to enhance general circulation due to its active component, anthocyanidin flavonoids that function as antioxidants. These antioxidants protect and work to strengthen the walls of blood vessels and capillaries.