Maintaining proper blood circulation may not be at the top of your priorities, but the truth is, it’s one of the best things you can do for your overall health.
“Circulation involves sending blood, oxygen, and nutrients to all parts of the body, removing waste products, regulating body temperature, and providing for muscle movement and tissue repair,” explains Janet Coleman, RD, founder of TheConsumerMag. “When blood flow is restricted or blocked in any part of the body, it can cause problems in other areas. For example, poor circulation in the legs can cause varicose veins and ulcers on the feet. Poor circulation in the arms can make it difficult to use your hands. Poor circulation in the brain may lead to a stroke.”
The good news is that you have more control over your circulation than you might realize.
According to Nataly Komova, RD, a fitness expert at JustCBD, consuming a lot of foods that are high in sodium, saturated fat, and added sugar can cause a build-up of plaque or narrowing of blood vessels due to increased cholesterol levels. So, as a general rule, you’re better off choosing whole foods than processed ones.
With that in mind, dietitians say you should definitely skip the following foods, which can seriously hinder healthy blood circulation. And while we’re on the subject, consider swapping those with the 5 Best Foods to Help Blood Circulation.
Trans fats are known as the worst possible kind of dietary fats for your health. In fact, studies have linked consumption of these fats to higher LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol, chronic inflammation, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned these fats back in 2018, some foods still contain some trans fat — often as a result of the cooking method used. For example, the heat applied to vegetable oils during the frying process can create trans fats — and each time the oil is reused to fry more food, the trans fat content increases.
So, what does this have to do with blood circulation?
“Eating foods high in these trans fats and saturated fats can spike up the level of bad cholesterol, which then leads to accumulation and deposition of fats on the blood vessels, interfering with smooth blood circulation,” explains Komova.
Plus, breaded fried foods are often chock full of salt. Consuming too much sodium causes your body to retain water, which in turn elevates your blood pressure, says Coleman.
“High blood pressure can cause circulation problems and heart disease, which leads to poor circulation,” she explains.
Since it’s hard to know just how much trans fat is in a serving of French fries, chicken tenders, or mozzarella sticks, consider sticking with foods that are roasted, steamed, grilled, or sautéed.
You’re much better off baking your own cookies, muffins, and cakes at home than buying pre-packaged options at the store. Not only will the homemade version lack preservatives, but you can also have more control over how much sugar and fat is added to the recipe.
Eating too much sugar can contribute to inflammation by releasing high amounts of insulin, and research has proven that chronic inflammation is associated with the development of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes involves having chronically high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood, which then coats the veins and arteries and hinders them from working properly. As a result, many people with diabetes end up having circulation-related complications.