Diet can play a crucial part in our circulatory health, so in this blog, I look at four foods you should be avoiding. Also, watch my short video at the end for information on a handy nutrient to support circulation further.
Louise Baillie S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise & Fitness), Advanced Human Anatomy & Physiology Level 3 @ActiveLouise Ask Louise
19 August 2020
What are the worst foods for circulatory health?
To help improve your circulatory health, there are four key foods I would recommend limiting your intake of. These are:
Read on to find out more about why these foods can cause issues.
Unfortunately, the nation's favourite choice for afternoon tea is first on our list of problematic foods for circulation.
The issue with cake is that it has a high saturated fat content so, if we eat it on a regular basis, it can contribute to a build-up of fatty plaques on the inside of artery walls. This is called atheroma, and it also contributes to a problem known as atherosclerosis, where the artery walls harden. The impact of this is an increased risk of heart problems, as the supply of blood to the heart can be compromised.
The likelihood of developing atherosclerosis increases further if the diet includes lots of other foods with a high saturated fat content. These include:
Bacon and sausages
Know more about saturated fats
Many foods contain saturated fats, too much of which can raise cholesterol and raise the risk of developing heart problems
How much? It is recommended men consume no more than 30g of saturated fats a day, whilst women should not have more than 20g.
Top sources: Butter, cake and fried foods.
Good alternative: Choose a homemade fruit-based cake, such as a fruit loaf, banana cake or beetroot cake, instead of doughnuts or shop-bought biscuits. Fruit and nuts are another healthy snack option.
If you favour more savory options, there's bad news! Popular choices like chips and crisps are equally problematic for our circulation, due to their high saturated fat content.
Too much salt raises blood pressure, which is the pressure within the arteries as blood flows through them.
Know more about salt
How much? The recommended daily allowance for salt is 6g which is approximately one teaspoon.
Top sources: Crisps, chips, bacon, sliced ham and tinned meals.
Good alternative: Cut up fresh potatoes, place on a baking tray, shake over some Herbamare Spicy and a little olive oil. Bake on a high heat for 25 minutes or until crispy, turning halfway through. Herbamare provides a good alternative to regular salt. It is made from fresh herbs, vegetables, and chilli for an added kick.
Highly processed white bread isn't particularly helpful for our circulation. The reason for this is that, unlike its brown and wholemeal counterparts, white bread is lacking in important nutrients like fibre, B vitamins and magnesium.
B vitamins are beneficial for circulation as they help to keep nerve and blood cells working well. Low magnesium, on the other hand, can contribute to sluggish circulation and problems such as cold hands and feet.
Fibre, meanwhile, can help us to feel fuller for longer. Eating lots of foods that are low in fibre, including white bread, means that we may be more inclined to snack and, therefore, put on weight.
Excess weight is another problematic issue for circulation, as I will discuss in my next point.
Know more about starchy foods
How much? Starchy foods should make up just over a third of the food you eat.
Top sources: Wholemeal bread, brown pasta, brown rice and potatoes.
Good alternative: Wholegrain, sourdough and whole wheat varieties of bread are some of the healthiest options. As a general rule, anything that has the word ‘whole’ in it suggests that the full grain has been used and the end product isn’t highly processed.
This convenient dinner is, unfortunately, problematic for circulation on a whole range of different levels.
Pizzas can be high in salt but, on top of this, they are high in calories and fat. This is likely to contribute to weight gain, which can hinder blood flow and contribute to an accumulation of plaque in the arteries.
Over time, we may expect this accumulation to hinder the flow of oxygen-rich blood to organs such as the heart and other parts of the body, as plaque hardens and the arteries narrow.
Unsurprisingly, other high calorie, high-fat foods can have a similar effect. These include:
Some ready meals
So, the more of these foods you include in your diet, the more likely you are to develop issues with your circulation.
My Self-Care Tip: A handy nutrient for good circulation
Watch my video for information on a handy nutrient to support our circulatory health.