The Effect of Sweets on Varicose Veins
Keep your veins healthy by skipping the candy and sugary snacks this fall and winter.
You may seek comfort during the cooler months by consuming sugary snacks and desserts. There's something about dressing in layers and finding cozy warmth in front of a fire or under a blanket that increases the temptation to indulge in sweets is even stronger.
But consuming foods high in refined sugar is bad for your overall health and your veins in particular. Eating too many sweets will likely worsen the symptoms of vein disease if you currently have varicose veins. However, you can begin to improve your vein health by limiting or eliminating your intake of sweets.
Why Sugar is Bad for Your Veins
Sugar has numerous negative effects on your vascular system. And since varicose veins result from insufficient blood flow in the veins, consuming high amounts of sugar will interfere with the normal circulation of blood, leading to clogged veins that grow into visible and painful varicose veins. Here are three reasons why sugar is bad for your veins:
It contributes to obesity. Foods packed with refined sugar are usually high in calories, too. When you’re overweight, blood doesn’t flow smoothly due to the pressure those excess pounds put on the veins. Blood then becomes pooled in the veins, leading to varicose veins. Although there are many factors that contribute to the development of varicose veins that are out of your control, such as family history and pregnancy, you can control your weight. Keeping your weight within an ideal level reduces the stress on your veins.
It leads to inflammation of the blood vessels. Delicate blood vessels become inflamed when hit with too much sugar, which can produce oxygen-derived free radicals in the body. In turn, those damaged veins cannot pump blood efficiently, which leads to swollen varicose veins. Also, sugar retains water in your blood system and dilates the vein walls. As blood flow expands beyond the capacity of the vein, your veins will enlarge and become varicose veins.
It contributes to high blood pressure. Hypertension is a serious chronic cardiovascular disease that’s been linked to high sugar consumption. A 2019 study found that higher sugar intake led to elevated blood pressure in a sample of older females. Hypertension affects the entire cardiovascular system, and that includes your arteries and veins. Venous hypertension — persistently elevated pressure in the veins — damages and weakens the veins, setting the stage for the development of varicose veins.
Candy and sugary drinks aren’t the only foods where you’ll find sugar. Products such as salad dressing, chips, and crackers also have high sugar content. Read the label to know how much sugar is in the product. The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily sugar intake to 9 teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) for men and 6 teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) for women.
And if you think you can substitute artificial sweeteners for sugar, think again. According to one study, artificial sweeteners were just as bad for vascular health as sugar. Researchers found that sugar and artificial sweeteners both damaged blood vessels.
An essential component of taking care of your veins is consuming a healthy diet filled with vegetables, fruits, and lean meats. If you have varicose veins or want to prevent their onset, indulge only occasionally or avoid sweets altogether. Your veins will be better for it.
Time to Take Care of Your Veins
Center for Vein Restoration is the nation's clinical leader in vein care. We have helped thousands of people overcome the pain, swelling, aching, and itching of varicose veins and other symptoms of venous insufficiency (vein disease). We start with a thorough health history and diagnostic ultrasound to map the health of your veins. We can then customize your treatment plan, which may include minimally invasive office procedures and lifestyle changes.
We accept a wide range of insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid.
Scheduling at the Center for Vein Restoration vein clinic near you is easy! Call 1-800-FIX-LEGS (1-800-349-5347) or schedule an appointment online.