Cheerful elderly people walking with hot chocolate in paper cups and smiling while enjoying winter day outdoors

Approaching Your Winter Diet for Better Blood Flow (Boost Nitric Oxide)

Everyone has their favorite food season. If it’s winter, I’m sure you’re licking your lips at the chance to enjoy hearty classics like chili, soups, stews, meat pies, and more.

These foods are comforting, high-calorie, and depending on how you make them, may promote or prevent heart troubles.

Taking a proactive approach to heart health in the winter is a good idea, especially if you are heading outdoors. Cold temperatures cause blood vessels to constrict, making it harder to pump oxygen-rich blood to your organs. This can put all kinds of added pressure on your heart.

Focusing on foods that promote better blood flow may help ease the extra burden on your heart and reduce the risk of a heart attack. Eating foods that boost nitric oxide may help with this.

Nitric oxide is a molecule that helps dilate blood vessels (called vasodilation; cold temperatures cause vasoconstriction) to allow greater blood flow. Certain foods enhance nitric oxide production.

Thankfully, there are several common winter foods, like meat, chocolate, and nuts that increase nitric oxide. Some of the best offerings are found in:

  • Beets
  • Garlic
  • Meat (poultry, seafood, etc.)
  • Dark chocolate
  • Leafy greens
  • Citrus fruit
  • Pomegranate
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Red wine

Beet soups, adding leafy greens to stews and meat pies, and snacking on nuts can all help boost blood flow in the winter.

A sip of beet juice or a handful of nuts before heading out for a walk or shovel might help keep your blood vessels open and relaxed despite the cold.

One thing to keep in mind is that vasodilation may make you feel warmer than you actually are. Alcohol, in particular, leads capillaries just under the skin’s surface to dilate. Because the skin feels warm, it’s easy to think that your core temperature is higher.

To avoid confusion, avoid alcohol before going outside. Further, if you feel warmer than the temperature indicates, remember this is a potential effect of vasodilators. Keep your jacket and hat on.

You can also dress in layers that are easily removed and reapplied.

Keeping long- and short-term heart health in mind this season might help you enjoy this and future winters a little more.


Author Bio

Mohan Garikiparithi got his degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). He practiced clinical medicine for over a decade before he shifted his focus to the field of health communications. During his active practice he served as the head of the Dept. of Microbiology in a diagnostic centre in India. On a three-year communications program in Germany, Mohan developed a keen interest in German Medicine (Homoeopathy), and other alternative systems of medicine. He now advocates treating different medical conditions without the use of traditional drugs. An ardent squash player, Mohan believes in the importance of fitness and wellness.

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