Striking 20 percent of women and 10 percent of men, varicose veins are not only unsightly, they can cause pain, aching and itchiness. These bluish, rope-like veins are caused by blood that pools when there is not enough pressure to force it up through the veins and back to the heart.The blood may pool because of calcium blockage, weak vein walls or low water levels in the blood. The good news is that all of these factors can be improved through diet and food choice making it possible to prevent and treat varicose veins.
Foods that are high in fiber help maintain many healthy body systems but are particularly important for improving varicose veins. By regulating the colon and digestion, fiber prevents the build up of toxins in the blood and keeps it flowing regularly. This then, keeps the blood pumping back to the heart instead of pooling near the skin. Steamed spinach is a great source of fiber as are beans, whole grains and carrots. Red beets and beet juice are also useful for avoiding blood toxemia.
Varicose veins are also attributed to inorganic calcium accumulating in the veins. This build up blocks the blood's upward movement like a dam, forcing the veins to bulge outwards near the skins surface. Raw garlic is known to dissolve deposits of both inorganic calcium and cholesterol, allowing the blood to flow freely. Parsley, on the other hand, not only dissolves calcium in the veins, it improves oxygen metabolism and helps maintain the elasticity of blood vessels. This makes parsley one of the best food choices for someone with varicose veins.
Free radicals often cause damage to veins and weaken them. Therefore, foods that are high in flavanoids which reduce free radicals can be used to treat and prevent varicose veins. Dark greens such as spinach, dark fruits such as cherries and blueberries, yams, onions, grapes and dark chocolate are all good sources of these antioxidants. In addition, acerola cherries provide the full vitamin C complex. This makes it a double dose of varicose fighting power because vitamin C strengthens the vein walls. To get vitamin C, try eating citrus or bell peppers. Remember, all of these fruits and vegetables provide more nutrients if juiced and eaten raw.
Spinach not only provides flavanoids, it also contains tannins. Tannins tighten and strengthen the tissue of the veins in the way that they are also used to "tan" leather. Another potent source of tannins is horse chestnut, an herb that doctors in Europe now prescribe for varicose veins. Dark greens also contain some tannin, buckwheat greens having the highest level.
When treating varicose veins through diet, avoiding certain foods is necessary to promote the health of the veins. Refined sugar and refined flour are both detrimental to the cardiovascular system. Eating popular store items such as cookies, doughnuts, candy and many boxed cereals will negate the effects of the beneficial foods.