At the core of healthy circulation lies a nourished heart. The heart pumps blood efficiently throughout the body by way of the blood vessels, which carry nutrients and oxygen to every cell in the body. Blood vessels not only put nutrients in the body, they also facilitate toxin removal to support healthy cell metabolism, among other things.
As we age, our arteries begin to lose their flexibility and even begin to shrink in size. That means the heart has to work even harder to facilitate blood flow throughout the body, causing undue stress on the cardiovascular system. Other factors like inactivity and obesity can also hinder blood flow throughout the body.
In addition to ramping up your exercise routine, the nutrients listed below can help support warmer extremities and bolster your cardiovascular system against bad blood flow.
Though usually thought of as a digestive supporter, ginger is also known for its ability to increase blood circulation. Scientists believe ginger boosts blood flow because of its antiplatelet and blood thinning properties. As an added bonus, ginger may help support healthy blood pressure. Ginger is also thought to open up pores, allowing the body to release sweat and toxins.
Fast Facts: Judy Griffin, author of Mother Nature’s Herbal, suggests dusting your slippers or socks with ginger powder on days when your feet just can’t seem to warm up.
2. VITAMIN C
Studied extensively by Dr. Linus Pauling for its potent heart-supporting properties, vitamin C is one of the best known vitamins for boosting blood flow. Through its antioxidant effects, vitamin C fortifies cholesterol molecules against free radical damage. Damaged cholesterol molecules often attach to the arterial lining, making it difficult for blood to flow freely.
By helping maintain youthful collagen and thwarting arterial irritation, vitamin C plays a huge role in making sure oxygenated blood reaches its destinations throughout the body.
3. CAYENNE PEPPER
Cayenne works internally to strengthen the vascular system all the way down to the capillaries. It acts as a circulatory stimulant, clearing restricted blood flow and speeding up nutrient delivery systems. Cayenne not only stimulates blood flow, but it also energizes the cells and helps boost the metabolism.
Other nutrients contained in cayenne pepper include vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids. Cayenne is also used externally in creams; It is thought to help get the blood moving when massaged into the skin.
Forever a “Renaissance nutrient” due to its wide range of health-boosting properties (it’s an antibacterial, potent immune booster, and many other things), garlic is an amazing cardiovascular supporter. Garlic actually widens the blood vessels to allow blood to flow freely throughout the body. It is also thought to cleanse the blood, thereby preventing toxic buildup in the arteries. Studies have shown that garlic may also make platelets less likely to clump together.
5. GINKGO BILOBA
Just like garlic, ginkgo biloba increases blood flow by dilating blood vessels and decreasing the stickiness of the blood. You may have heard of gingko before in relation to its positive effects on cognition. Indeed, gingko is regarded as an essential nutrient for a sharp memory and a clear mind, due in part to its role in increasing blood flow to the brain.
BONUS: Dark Chocolate
Aren’t we all looking for another excuse to eat dark chocolate? By know you’re probably aware that cocoa contains potent antioxidant molecules called flavonoids. Flavonoids have also been heavily linked to supporting healthy circulation. One study out of the journal Circulation showed that dark chocolate rich in natural flavonoids improved blood circulation over other types of chocolate. So when it comes time to make dessert menus for upcoming holiday celebrations, be sure to include a dose of dark chocolate – nutritionists orders!