The 14 Best Foods to Increase Blood Flow and Circulation

Poor circulation is a common problem caused by a number of conditions.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD), diabetes, obesity, smoking and Raynaud’s disease are some of the many causes of poor circulation (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Reduced blood flow can cause unpleasant symptoms, such as pain, muscle cramps, numbness, digestive issues and coldness in the hands or feet.

In addition to those with poor circulation, athletes and active individuals may want to increase blood flow in order to improve exercise performance and recovery.

Although circulatory issues are often treated with medications, eating certain foods can also improve blood flow.

Here are the 14 best foods to optimize blood flow.

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Cayenne pepper gets its spicy flavor from a phytochemical called capsaicin.

Capsaicin promotes blood flow to tissues by lowering blood pressure and stimulating the release of nitric oxide and other vasodilators — or compounds that help expand your blood vessels (6).

Vasodilators allow blood to flow more easily through your veins and arteries by relaxing the tiny muscles found in blood vessel walls.

Research indicates that ingesting cayenne pepper increases circulation, improves blood vessel strength and reduces plaque buildup in your arteries (7).

What’s more, these spicy peppers are frequently included in pain-relieving creams because they can encourage blood flow to the affected area (8).

Pomegranates are juicy, sweet fruits that are particularly high in polyphenol antioxidants and nitrates, which are potent vasodilators.

Consuming pomegranate — as juice, raw fruit or supplement — may improve blood flow and oxygenation of muscle tissue, which could especially aid active individuals.

A study in 19 active people, found that ingesting 1,000 mg of pomegranate extract 30 minutes before working out increased blood flow, blood vessel diameter and exercise performance (9).

Another study demonstrated that daily consumption of 17 ounces (500 ml) of pomegranate juice during or before weight training reduced soreness, muscle damage and inflammation in elite weightlifters (10).

Onions are an excellent source of flavonoid antioxidants, which benefit heart health.

This vegetable improves circulation by helping your arteries and veins widen when blood flow increases.

In a 30-day study in 23 men, taking 4.3 grams of onion extract daily significantly improved blood flow and artery dilation after meals (11).

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