How the Food You Eat Impacts Your Vein Health
What you eat affects your entire body — including your veins. Keep your veins healthy by paying attention to your diet.
Many factors affect your vein health, including whether you’ll develop varicose veins. Age, hormonal changes due to pregnancy and menopause, obesity, heredity, and lack of exercise can all increase your chances of varicose veins appearing on your legs and feet.
Yet there’s another critical factor in varicose vein risk: your diet. What you eat can contribute to the development of varicose veins or worsen the symptoms of pain, swelling, cramping, itching, and throbbing if you already have them. So if you want to prevent varicose veins or lessen their discomfort, you can start by changing your diet.
The Best Foods For Vein Health
Eating to improve your vein health is important even if you don’t have varicose veins. But if you are at risk for developing them, you can protect yourself from the painful, enlarged veins by planning your meals with these food groups in mind:
Fruits & Vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are packed with many antioxidant and inflammatory agents, like vitamins A, C, and E. Nearly any one you choose provides those nutrients; just make sure you eat them uncooked and fresh when possible to get the most benefits. Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, and lemons contain vitamin C and oxerutins, substances that reduce the pain and swelling of varicose veins. When eating vegetables, pick colorful ones packed with bioflavonoids. In addition to their ability to fight inflammation, bioflavonoid-filled vegetables like bell peppers, spinach, broccoli, eggplant, and asparagus boost circulation so blood doesn’t pool in the veins.
Due to their high fiber content, fruits and vegetables promote regular digestion, as well. Too little fiber in your diet can be constipating, causing labored bowel movements that strain abdominal and leg veins. One consequence of that pressure could be varicose veins. Whole wheat, brown rice, and legumes are just a few high-fiber foods you can add to your diet.
In addition, you can sip Massachusetts’ state beverage, cranberry juice. One study found cranberry juice “significantly” reduced systolic blood pressure and body mass index. Hypertension damages the veins, so reducing blood pressure protects vascular health. One of the state’s leading agricultural crops, cranberries also contain high amounts of vitamins A, C, and E.
Minerals. Certain minerals promote healthy veins. Copper, for one, strengthens vein walls, so they’re less likely to swell. Good sources of copper include lentils, almonds, beef liver, and asparagus. Potassium regulates blood pressure and water balance in the body. When you consume potassium-rich foods such as bananas, oranges, carrots, potatoes, and lean meats, you’re keeping your body properly hydrated. Good hydration supports circulation.
Herbs/Seasonings. The herbs and spices you use to flavor your foods can have a positive effect on your veins, too. Ginger and rosemary not only enhance the taste of meats and soups but boost circulation, as well. Rosemary also contains rosmarinic, a compound said to fight off free radicals from invading tissues. The one seasoning to avoid is salt; sodium causes your body to retain water, which puts more pressure on the veins. Steer clear of packaged foods and cured meats like ham and hot dogs flavored with generous amounts of sodium.
Take Care of Your Veins
Your vein health is an important part of your overall well-being. In Massachusetts, Dr. Pamela Kim, MD, RPVI, oversees Center for Vein Restoration’s branch in Framingham. Dr. Kim has completed fellowships in phlebology and vascular surgery and will discuss a holistic approach to treating your veins with diet, exercise, surgery, or non-surgical methods. Contact her today for an appointment.