Good blood circulation is essential for the body because it allows the transport of oxygen and nutrients to cells. Diet plays a vital role in blood flow, and certain foods can have a positive or negative effect on circulation.

Many lifestyle factors can affect circulation, such as physical activity, smoking, and weight. In addition, some medical conditions can cause poor circulation, including atherosclerosis, diabetes mellitus, blood clots, and Raynaud’s disease.

This article looks at which foods are best to include in the diet for improved blood circulation. It then discusses the role of circulation and how to improve blood flow. Finally, it lists some foods to avoid if circulation is a concern.

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There are many different foods that may be beneficial in maintaining a healthy blood flow. They include red hot peppers, beets, garlic, nuts, certain fruits, and some fish.

Red hot peppers

According to a 2016 review, the consumption of capsaicinoids may help improve blood vessel health. Capsaicinoids are found in red hot peppers, and they may also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The article concludes that capsaicinoids may lower the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and hardening of the arteries.

Learn more about hot chili peppers here.


Beets, also known as “beetroots,” may have protective effects on blood vessels and the cardiovascular system. The vegetables contain nitrates, which the body converts into nitric oxide. This process helps expand blood vessels. Beet juice may help widen arteries, lower blood pressure, and improve athletic endurance.

Learn more about the benefits of beet juice here.

Leafy greens

According to some research, a diet high in plant foods could be beneficial to cardiovascular health due to the high levels of inorganic nitrate in vegetables such as leafy greens. Inorganic nitrate may help reduce high blood pressure from excess salt intake.

Learn more about collard greens here.


A 2017 study on the effects of garlic on people with coronary artery disease concluded that garlic may improve blood vessel function, but it requires further research. During the three-month study, the group taking garlic powder tablets showed significant improvement in blood flow in the forearm arteries compared to the placebo group.

Learn more about the benefits of garlic here.


Nuts may have protective effects against cardiovascular disease, particularly when eaten as part of a healthy diet, according to this 2018 review. Many types of nuts contain high levels of L-arginine, an amino acid that forms nitric acid, which helps widen blood vessels and regulate blood pressure. Nuts are also a good source of magnesium, potassium, and calcium, which may all help to lower blood pressure.

Learn more about healthy nuts here.


A 2017 review of clinical and animal studies found that pomegranate juice has positive effects on the arteries and can reduce plaque buildup. Pomegranate juice can also lower blood pressure, and its antioxidant effects may improve overall cardiovascular health.

Pomegranates may also help improve blood flow to the heart and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol while reducing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which may lower the risk of certain diseases, such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and some cancers.

Learn more about HDL and LDL cholesterol here.


The Mediterranean diet, which includes fish, olive oil, fruits, and vegetables, may be beneficial for vascular health, according to The Society for Vascular Surgery. Fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent plaque from building up inside arteries and may also prevent blood clots, reduce blood pressure, and increase (HDL) cholesterol.

Types of fish high in omega-3 include:

  • salmon
  • mackerel
  • tuna
  • trout
  • sardines
  • herring

Learn more about the Mediterranean diet here.

Citrus fruits

A flavanone-rich citrus fruit drink increased blood flow to the brain, according to a 2016 study on 24 healthy adults aged 18–30 years. Each person had cognitive testing before and two hours after consuming the drink. Compared to a placebo, 500 milliliters of the citrus drink increased blood flow to the brain and improved performance in one of the cognitive tests.

Learn more about flavonoids and Alzheimer’s here.


Berries may help improve metabolic syndrome, according to a 2016 review. The condition is usually linked to the narrowing of blood vessels. The polyphenols in berries, such as anthocyanins and phenolic acids, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Common berries people can include in their diet include:

  • blueberries
  • bilberries
  • cranberries
  • blackberries
  • raspberries
  • red, white, or black currants
  • strawberries

People may be able to improve blood flow and circulation through lifestyle and dietary changes, including these suggestions:

  • Eating a healthy diet: Include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Limit processed foods, added sugars, and salt.
  • Maintaining a moderate weight: Being overweight can increase the risk of circulatory problems.
  • Quitting smoking: Smoking can cause a range of circulatory and health problems.
  • Drinking water: Staying well hydrated can help increase oxygen levels in the blood and improve circulation.
  • Increasing physical activity: Regular exercise helps increase circulation.

Good blood circulation is vital for the body to function, as it carries nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. If a person experiences the symptoms of poor circulation, it may be due to reduced blood flow. Symptoms are commonly felt in a person’s arms or legs.


Blood has three main functions:

TransportationBlood carries nutrients to cells, transports hormones, and helps remove waste by transporting it to the liver and kidneys.
RegulationBlood helps regulate body temperature and retains a certain pH level to sustain bodily functions.
ProtectionBlood clotting can prevent major blood loss from injuries. White blood cells are also an important part of the immune system.


The circulatory system includes:

  • heart
  • arteries
  • veins
  • capillaries


Damage to any part of the circulatory system can affect circulation. A person may feel various symptoms, including:

  • numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
  • fluid accumulation in the feet, ankles, and legs
  • memory loss
  • difficulty concentrating
  • fatigue
  • muscle cramping
  • leg ulcers
  • varicose veins

In addition, a person with poor circulation may have digestive problems or changes in skin color.

If a person is concerned about poor blood flow, they may want to avoid foods that are processed, or high in sugar, fats, or salt.

Red, processed, or fatty meat

The Society for Vascular Surgery recommends avoiding lamb or poultry with the skin intact because it contains a high amount of saturated fats. Saturated fat can cause cholesterol to collect in the arteries, which increases the risk of heart disease. The Society for Vascular Surgery advises people to choose lean cuts of meat, eaten in moderation.

Learn more about red meat and health here.

Added sugars

Excess amounts of added sugar in the diet can increase the risk of diseases such as high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure. High blood pressure can damage the artery walls, and high cholesterol can cause hardening of the arteries. High blood sugar can lead to diabetes, which can damage blood vessels and nerves that allow the heart and blood vessels to function properly.

Learn about some common medical myths around sugar here.

Trans fats

Trans fats occur in certain animal products, including milk, butter, cheese, and meat. Many processed foods contain trans fats if hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make the oil solidify at room temperature. Trans fats increase LDL cholesterol in the blood, which can increase the risk of plaque forming in the arteries and heart disease.

Learn more about trans fats here.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), excess salt in the diet can increase the risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and coronary heart attack. The WHO recommends a daily intake of fewer than 5 grams of salt for adults.

Learn more about salt here.

Good circulation is essential for the blood to deliver oxygen and nutrients to cells in the body.

Diet plays an important role in good circulation. Trans fats, saturated fats, excess salt, and added sugars can all negatively impact circulation. Eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, oily fish, and nuts may help improve circulation.

Exercising regularly, staying hydrated, and avoiding smoking also help improve circulation.