Poor blood circulation can have a myriad of negative health consequences. Poor circulation is usually due to restricted arteries and blood vessels, which are often caused by poor diet and lack of exercise. Clogged arteries are the cause of heart disease and stroke, and thus should be avoided at all costs. While it's hard to undo the effects of a sedentary lifestyle and an unhealthy diet, there are foods available that can help increase blood circulation and improve heart health.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends consuming at least two servings of fish each week. Fish is naturally high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce blood clots, thus improving circulation. The AHA specifically recommends salmon, trout and herring.
The AHA also reports that diets high in whole grains can reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol and increasing blood circulation. Replace white bread with whole grain bread and be sure to check the "Nutrition Facts" on each food claiming to contain whole wheat. Sometimes, these foods actually contain very little heart-healthy fiber. Also read ingredient lists to be sure the words "whole wheat" appear as one of the first two ingredients.
When appropriate, eat the skins of fruits and vegetables since these generally contain the highest concentrations of fiber of all other parts of the fruit or veggie.
Olive oil is full of phenolic antioxidants, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and support a healthy circulatory system. Two to 3 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil (which contains the highest concentration of antioxidants out of all types of olive oil) every day can be a great addition to a heart-healthy diet.
Foods also known to increase blood circulation include pumpkin seeds, oranges, nuts, watermelon and garlic. Consult your health professional for more ideas.
Foods to avoid include anything that contains trans fats or high levels of saturated fats. The AHA also recommends making sure all meats and dairy products consumed are low in fat, such as meat with less than 10 percent fat content and skim or 1-percent milk products.