Autumn’s crisp air and vibrant foliage bring cravings for hot apple and pumpkin pie, hearty soups and stews, and warm drinks that keep the hands cozy. Fortunately, many of fall’s classic foods are also healthy for the cardiovascular system, including veins and arteries. Most Americans will experience varicose veins at some point during their lives, so it makes sense to plan your diet around minimizing their effects, especially when autumn’s traditional bounty is so delicious. Including the following food types on your table as often as possible this fall will help ensure good cardiovascular health.
One of autumn’s quintessential culinary delights, pumpkin has several cardiovascular health benefits. Roasted pumpkin seeds make a delicious additive to salads, bread, muffins, or hot cereals and can also be enjoyed by the handful as between-meal snacks. Besides being rich in zinc, pumpkin seeds also contain substantial amounts of phytosterols, which positively affect LDL cholesterol.
Broccoli and Cauliflower
Both broccoli and cauliflower contain significant amounts of fiber, which reduces pressure on blood vessels in the legs and increases bowel functionality, decreasing damage to veins due to lessened straining. Broccoli contains good levels of vitamin K, which helps prevent an overabundance of calcium from damaging the veins. Cauliflower offers abundant benefits to those concerned with vein health, including numerous anti-inflammatory nutrients that work to avoid damage to the delicate inner lining of the arteries. Broccoli and cauliflower can be enjoyed steamed, tossed in salads, or eaten raw with a delicious dip.
Asparagus is listed as number seven among the top 20 artery-cleansing foods by author Shane Ellison. It contains serious compounds with anti-inflammatory properties that release pressure on arteries and veins and prevent clotting. Asparagus is delicious when steamed and drizzled with dill sauce, and its crisp crunch makes a good case for enjoying it raw.
Avocados contain significant amounts of both vitamin C and vitamin E, both of which are essential for optimal vascular health. They also contain a high concentration of the powerful antioxidant glutathione, which protects the cardiovascular system from damage caused by free radicals. Avocados can be prepared in tons of delicious ways, including as a chopped salad ingredient and made into classic guacamole dip.
Who doesn’t love the scent of apple pie baking in the oven, the taste of fresh apples sliced into hot morning oatmeal and sprinkled with brown sugar, or the feel of warm apple cider in the hands-on a chilly day? Apples are a culinary delicacy that you can indulge in without guilt because they contain a flavonoid known as rutin, which is one of the best possible substances for vein and artery health. Rutin protects blood vessels, reduces the chances of developing blood clots, and significantly reduces the risk of new varicose veins forming.
As if apples weren’t delicious enough, autumn harvests include several other fruits that are good for your cardiovascular system, including:
- Cranberries. Cranberries contain large amounts of vitamin C and heart-healthy antioxidants
- Pears. Pears are closely related to apples and have the same nutritional benefits, including healthy doses of rutin.
- Persimmon. Persimmons contain large amounts of cardio-healthy tannins as well as significant antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
Kale has long been known as one of the superfoods that should be included in everyone’s diet, so take advantage of autumn’s bounty to get your fill of this leafy green powerhouse as often as possible. Chock full of vitamins A, C, and K also contains the essential minerals potassium, iron, and copper. Also, it has substantial amounts of omega-3 acids, which act as anti-inflammatory agents. Kale is delicious when steamed with a sprinkling of freshly minced garlic, but if you’re one of those who doesn’t care for mature kale’s pungent, bitter bite, try baby kale.
Another member of the illustrious superfood team, pomegranate, contains serious phytochemicals that protect the inner lining of veins and arteries from being damaged by free radicals. Pomegranate juice is an excellent beverage choice, and the seeds can be removed from fruits and sprinkled in salads for a pop of extra flavor.
Full of omega-3 acids, salmon is an excellent choice for those devising menus designed to optimize cardiovascular health. Those who include two or more servings of cold-water fish in their weekly food intake reduce triglyceride blood levels and increase HDL cholesterol, which helps keep arteries and veins running free and clear. Salmon can be grilled, poached, steamed, baked, or broiled.
Although technically not a food, water is the most important beverage you can drink, and if you’re like most people, you don’t get nearly enough. Not only does it keep your organs adequately hydrated and functioning at optimal levels, but it also helps flush out fiber, keeping your bowel movements smooth and strain-free. Next time you’re thirsty, pick up a refreshing glass of water instead of that sugary soda or other dehydrating beverage.
The above suggestions prove that you don’t have to give up good taste when planning menus for maintaining good artery and vein health. Remember, your cardiovascular system contains over 60,000 miles of arteries, veins, capillaries, arterioles, and venules, so keep them happy and healthy by feeding them well.