Pomegranates are juicy, sweet fruits that are particularly high in polyphenol antioxidants and nitrates, which are potent vasodilators.
Consuming pomegranate — as a juice, raw fruit, or supplement — may improve blood flow and oxygenation of muscle tissue, which could especially aid active individuals.
A 2014 study in 19 active people found that consuming 1,000 milligrams (mg) of pomegranate extract 30 minutes before working out increased blood flow, blood vessel diameter, and exercise performance.
Another study demonstrated that daily consumption of 17 ounces (oz.), or 500 milliliters (mL), of pomegranate juice during or before weight training reduced soreness, muscle damage, and inflammation in elite weightlifters
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 an older, 30-day study in 23 males, taking 4.3 grams (g) of onion extract daily significantly improved blood flow and artery dilation after meals. Onions also have anti-inflammatory properties, which can boost blood flow and heart health by reducing inflammation in veins and arterie.
Cinnamon is a warming spice that has many health benefits — including increased blood flow. In animal studies, cinnamon improved blood vessel dilation and blood flow in the coronary artery, which supplies blood to the heart.
For example, in one 2014 animal study, rats fed 91 mg per pound (lb.) of body weight, or 200 mg per kilogram (kg), of cinnamon bark extract daily for 8 weeks exhibited better heart performance. And coronary artery blood flow after exhaustive exercise compared to rats in the control group. Plus, research shows that cinnamon can effectively reduce blood pressure in humans by relaxing your blood vessels. This improves circulation and keeps your heart healthy.
In a 2011 study in 59 people with type 2 diabetes, 1,200 mg of cinnamon per day reduced systolic blood pressure (the top number of a reading) by an average of 3.4 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) after 12 weeks
Garlic is well known for its beneficial impact on circulation and heart health.
Studies suggest that garlic — specifically, its sulfur compounds, which include allicin — can increase tissue blood flow and lower blood pressure by relaxing your blood vessels.
In fact, diets high in garlic are associated with better flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD), an indicator of blood flow efficiency.
In a study in 42 people with coronary artery disease, those who consumed garlic powder tablets containing 1,200 mg of allicin twice daily for 3 months experienced a 50% improvement in blood flow through the upper arm artery compared to a placebo group
Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids .
These fats are especially beneficial for circulation because they promote the release of nitric oxide, which dilates your blood vessels and increases blood flow.
Omega-3 fats also help inhibit the clumping of platelets in your blood, a process that can lead to blood clot formation.
What’s more, fish oil supplements are linked to reduced high blood pressure and improved blood flow in skeletal muscle during and after exercise.
For example, in a 2014 study in 10 healthy males, high doses of fish oil 4.2 g daily for 4 weeks significantly improved blood flow to the legs after exercise
Increased blood flow is one of turmeric’s many health benefits.
In fact, both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine have utilized turmeric since ancient times to open blood vessels and improve blood circulation. Research suggests that a compound found in turmeric called curcumin helps increase nitric oxide production, reduce oxidative stress, and decrease inflammation. In a study in 39 people, taking 2,000 mg of curcumin daily for 12 weeks led to a 37% increase in forearm blood flow and a 36% increase in upper arm blood flow
Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruit are packed with antioxidants, including flavonoids.
Consuming flavonoid-rich citrus fruits may decrease inflammation in your body, which can reduce blood pressure and stiffness in your arteries while improving blood flow and nitric oxide production.
In one small study in 15 people with overweight or obesity, those who drank 7 oz. (200 mL) of blood orange juice twice daily for 2 weeks experienced significant improvements in FMD and blood vessel function compared to a control group.
Additionally, regular consumption of citrus fruits, such as oranges, has been associated with reduced blood pressure and a decreased risk of stroke
Tomatoes may help reduce the activity of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), which causes blood vessels to constrict to control blood pressure.
Research reveals that tomato extract works similarly to ACE-inhibiting drugs, by opening up your blood vessels and improving blood flow.
Test-tube studies note that tomato extract can inhibit ACE, reduce inflammation, and disrupt platelet aggregation, which can improve circulation.
Berries are especially healthy, as they have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities, which may have a positive impact on blood flow.
Chronic inflammation can damage blood vessels and raise your blood pressure, which can cause circulatory issues.
Research shows that eating berries can lower blood pressure, heart rate, platelet aggregation, and blood levels of inflammatory markers like interleukin-6 (IL-6) while also improving artery dilation .
Ginger, a staple in traditional medicine in India and China for thousands of years, can likewise lower blood pressure and improve circulation.
In both human and animal studies, ginger has been shown to reduce high blood pressure, which negatively impacts blood flow.
In a study in 4,628 people, those who consumed the most ginger 2–4 g per day had the lowest risk of developing high blood pressure.
According to one 2014 animal study, ginger may work by inhibiting the activity of ACE .
While incorporating any of these foods into your diet may improve circulation, other lifestyle changes may have a larger impact.
Here are some other lifestyle modifications that can optimize blood flow:
Smoking is a risk factor for many chronic diseases — such as cancer — and can negatively impact circulation.
Increase Physical Activity
Exercise stimulates blood flow and helps improve vasodilation. Plus, regular exercise decreases your risk of heart disease
Reach or maintain a moderate weight: Having overweight or obesity negatively impacts blood flow and can lead to dangerous complications, such as plaque buildup in your arteries.