Can vasodilating foods actually boost your circulation?

Jhere are plenty of compelling reasons to incorporate vasodilator foods — a term that refers to ingredients known to help dilate blood vessels and promote circulation — into your diet. Chances are you already have some of these nutrient-dense foods in your fridge or pantry: Beets and beet juice, onionsgarlic, leafy greens, citrus fruitsand berries are all natural vasodilators, as are seasonings like cinnamon, Cayenne pepperand Turmeric. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acidssuch as salmon and nuts, also fall into this category.

Many of these vasodilating foods are said to improve blood circulation by stimulating the body’s production of nitric oxide, a compound that relaxes the tiny muscles in our blood vessels and causes them to expand. Foods containing ACE inhibitors, including tomatoes and ginger, can also help improve circulation by neutralizing the effects of enzymes that constrict blood vessels.

Maintaining good circulation, of course, is essential to our health. Blood provides the oxygen and nutrients that keep all of our organs and muscles functioning properly. And, as blood flows through our veins and arteries, it also removes carbon dioxide and other wastes from the body.

Poor circulation, on the other hand, is often associated with tingling and muscle cramps. It can also manifest as cold hands and feet, which got us wondering: By improving blood circulation, can vasodilator foods also warm us up on the inside? It’s a tempting proposition during the winter months, but a Chicago-based dietitian Maggie MichalczykMS, RD of Once upon a time there was a pumpkinis skeptical that these foods have any significant effect on body temperature, and research on vasodilator foods is initially limited.

“While eating foods that help with vasodilation will help improve blood flow to your muscles, you won’t necessarily feel warmer just by eating them,” says Michalczyk.

The reason, says Michalczyk, is that there are many other factors that can impact blood flow and make you feel cold, and any benefits you might get from vasodilator foods probably won’t be enough to mitigate those factors. . Conditions such as type 2 diabetes and Raynaud’s disease and the side effects of certain medications, for example, can impede blood circulation and lead to cold hands and feet.

Michalczyk says being always cold can also be a sign of a deficiency in B vitamins, especially vitamin B12, which is associated with low energy levels. “If you were a bit lacking in B vitamins, eat some [vasodilator] food is really not going to solve this problem,” she says. “If you notice that you are constantly cold, it would be a good idea to get a blood test, especially if you haven’t seen your doctor for a while. That would be the best way to both understand what’s going on with your circulation and find a real doctor-approved solution.”

That being said, while you may still need to grab a thick pair of socks or snuggle up under your electric blanket after a meal full of vasodilating foods, Michalczyk still recommends consuming these ingredients regularly, as they are all extremely nutrient dense foods. “I have to put on a sweater and keep eating these things,” she thinks. Many vasodilator foods also have anti-inflammatory properties and are high in antioxidants, so what’s not to love?

“The good news about these foods is that they’re pretty simple to incorporate into your everyday meals and snacks,” says Michalczyk. “Maybe it’s aimed at eating fish twice a week for dinner. Berries are really easy to stir into yogurt, oatmeal, or just a snack. Along with leafy greens, it’s also simple as tossing them into a smoothie, tossing them into a salad, or simply adding a handful to a stir-fry.

You may not notice any change in your body temperature after consuming these foods, but you can take comfort in knowing that you are supporting your heart, brain and immune system health. “While you don’t necessarily feel warmer from these foods, you do get the benefit of blood pressure control, which hopefully helps prevent future illnesses,” says Michalczyk.

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