To Improve Circulation and Boost Heart Health, Doctors Recommend Eating These Surprising Superfoods

By now you probably know what you shouldn’t eat to maintain a healthy heart. But what about things that can help keep your ticker beating strong? William Li, MD, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based researcher, has spent more than 30 years studying angiogenesis — the process by which the body grows blood vessels and keeps them healthy.

“It’s actually the beating heart of the cardiovascular system,” says Dr. Li. After all, our body has over 60,000 miles of vessels that pump oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, including to and from the heart. “What we eat is vitally important to the functioning of these vessels and to the heart itself,” says Dr Li, whose book Eating to overcome disease is based on the latest research in this field.

Here, some of the latest findings, including Dr. Li’s recommendations for the best foods to lower your risk of heart disease.

Foods that improve circulation

“It’s crucial to eat foods that can stimulate or help maintain healthy blood vessel growth for the heart and the rest of the body,” says Dr. Li. Angiogenesis not only maintains blood flow throughout the body, but also kicks in if there is a threat to circulation, such as a blockage in a blood vessel with atherosclerosis or narrowing of the coronary vessels or carotid arteries. In fact, writes Dr. Li, people can live for years or even decades with coronary heart disease or carotid disease if the angiogenesis defense system is doing its job. These foods can help stimulate blood vessel growth and improve blood circulation throughout the body.

Example of price: Apples (including peel), capers, sesame seeds, cranberries

Foods That Activate Stem Cells

“Through research, we know that humans regenerate themselves from within using stem cells from our own bodies,” says Dr. Li. These cells have a wide range of functions, including helping to protect and to rebuild the heart after an injury such as a heart attack. They also help protect blood vessels throughout the body, including those lining the heart. Research has shown that subjects with the highest levels of stem cell factor (a blood marker essential for proper stem cell function) had a 50% lower risk of heart failure and a 50% lower risk of stroke. 34% lower, as well as a 32% lower risk. death from any cause — over a 19-year period.

Example of price: Green tea, red wine, dark chocolate, mangoes

Foods That Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation plays an important role in helping our immune system do its job, such as attacking unwanted invaders like bacteria or viruses. But chronic inflammation is problematic for a number of health issues, including your heart. Inflammation plays a central role in the development of atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque inside the arteries). “Almost all of us have plaque in our blood vessels,” says Dr. Li. “If these rupture and come loose, they can form a clot that can block blood flow, causing heart attack or stroke. cerebral.” Anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce chronic inflammation that can trigger this immune response.

Example of price: Dark leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, green tea, garlic

Foods that improve the microbiome

Your heart and guts have a surprisingly close relationship. “We have about 39 trillion bacteria that make up their own ecosystem in the gut, known as the microbiome,” says Dr. Li. “These bacteria help reduce inflammation, reduce the amount of lipids in the body and control blood pressure. Eating foods that nourish your microbiome can also help your cardiovascular system.

Example of price: Prebiotics (which feed the bacteria that live in the gut) including lentils, nuts and mushrooms; Probiotic (bacteria-rich) foods, including yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and cheeses like Gouda and Parmigiano-Reggiano

Featured Players

Want to lower your risk of heart disease while pleasing your stomach? These foods (and drinks) can play a particularly important role in keeping you healthy.

Dark chocolate

As if we needed any more reason to love chocolate, it turns out it’s good for your heart, thanks to its rich source of natural polyphenols, which help protect blood vessels and boost function. global heart. It also helps stimulate stem cell production – a University of California, San Francisco study in subjects with heart disease found that those who had hot chocolate made with extra-strength dark chocolate twice a day had double the number of stem cells in their bloodstream, as well as improved blood flow after 30 days. Dark chocolate also has a positive effect on the gut microbiota, says Dr. Li.

Green tea

A regular on lists of the world’s healthiest foods, it helps reduce chronic inflammation, stimulate the growth of new blood vessels, nourish the microbiome and support stem cell growth. Green tea is particularly rich in the polyphenol EGCG, which reduces harmful angiogenesis, lowers blood pressure, improves blood lipids, and has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.


Believe it or not, brewski has its own health benefits, thanks to the bioactive compounds that float through the beer during the fermentation process. One of them, xanthohumol, is a polyphenol that can help reduce the risk of heart disease, says Dr Li. risk of cardiovascular disease,” he notes. The emphasis here, of course, is on moderation — too much alcohol is harmful to your overall health, and those liquid calories can add up.


Your morning reveal contains a slew of natural chemicals, including chlorogenic acid, which helps keep blood vessels dilated and protects the heart, says Dr. Li. turn into plaque, fueling its growth, which can cause it to rupture.” Studies have shown that people who drink two to three cups of coffee a day may have a lower risk of heart disease.

Chicken thighs

Dark chicken meat contains high levels of vitamin K2, or menaquinone, a naturally occurring fat-soluble vitamin. Research has shown that people who eat more K2-rich foods had a more than 57% reduction in the risk of dying from heart disease and a 52% reduction in the risk of severe hardening of the arteries due to heart disease. plaque buildup, says Dr. Li.

A version of this article appeared in our partner magazine, The Complete Guide to Heart Health, in 2019.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, World Woman.

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