Introduction. A vasodilator is a drug, agent, or nerve that causes vasodilatation (widening) of the walls of blood vessels. Vasodilator drugs relax the muscle in blood vessels, and the vessels dilate. Vasodilators are medications used to open up blood vessels and prevent heart-related health conditions, but there are also natural vasodilators that can dilate vessels and increase blood flow.
Vasodilators have impact on the walls of muscles of the arteries and veins. They prevent the muscles from tightening and the wall from narrowing, which then allow blood to flow more freely through vessels. When blood is flowing easily, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard and blood pressure is reduced.
The production of Nitric Oxide is important for the regulation of blood flow. Abnormal nitric oxide production occurs in different disease situations. It can have a negative impact on blood flow and vascular functions. Nitric oxide is produced from the amino acid L-arginine (an essential amino acid of plant and animal proteins, necessary for nutrition and for the production of excretory urea.) by action from nitric oxide synthase Vascular actions of nitric oxide can include preventing sympathetic vasoconstriction, acting as an anti-inflammatory, having an anti-thrombotic effect, and preventing muscle hyperplasia. On the other hand, when nitric oxide production is hampered, it can lead to hypertension, thrombosis, vascular hypertrophy and stenosis, or excess inflammation.
Nitric oxide is a strong vasodilator; something you can get from flavonoid and L-arginine rich foods. There are many natural vasodilator foods to choose from.
Natural Vasodilators to Increase Blood Flow
Nitric oxide is a drug or medicine that reduces blood pressure as well as prevent artery blockage and stroke. Boosting nitric oxide levels with food is sometimes a preferred option. No matter what your taste buds are like, you have to find something on the following list of natural vasodilators that you can enjoy.
- Arginine. Arginine has amino acid that can be found in protein-rich foods, such as chicken, turkey, and dairy products. Arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide, so it is one of the best natural vasodilator options.
- Arugula. This type of lettuce (a cultivated plant of the daisy family, with edible leaves that are eaten in salads.) has the highest source of nitrates. It can be a little bitter, so many people mix it in with other types of lettuce or sauté it with other vegetables. Arugula is also called garden rocket or salad rocket. It is often referred to in England as a “fancy pants” (more sophisticated) kind of leaf lettuce.
- Beets. Large number of studies revealed that beetroot an excellent vasodilator, especially when it comes to lowering blood pressure. Beets are also a source of anti-oxidants and betalains (A class of red and yellow indole-derived water-soluble pigments found in beets and other plants of the Caryophyllales and used commercially as coloring agents.), which are good anti-inflammatories.
- Cayenne. Cayenne has a warming impact, which can help dilate blood vessels. Excessive use of cayenne is not recommended, however including it in small quantity in meals will be very helpful.
- Citrus. The most important point is thatResearch suggests that vitamin C protects nitric oxide molecules from free radical damage, making it a good natural vasodilator. Foods like oranges, lemons, and grapefruit contain large amounts of vitamin C. This vitamin is known to raise levels of nitric oxide synthase, which again is the enzyme that converts L-arginine into nitric oxide.
- Coffee. Many researches has shown that coffee can boost vasodilation and blood flow. One of the study conducted in 2015 indicated that men are less likely to experience erectile dysfunction due to poor blood flow when they drink two or more cups of coffee each day.
- Dark chocolate. Raw cacao bean increases nitric oxide and is also full of antioxidants. It can lower blood pressure and impact markers of inflammation. Keep in mind that it is loaded with sugar, so it should be consumed occasionally. Remember that it is dark chocolate which is referred as dark chocolate only.
- Garlic. Although garlic does not contain a lot of nitrates, it does boost the enzyme nitric oxide synthase. Research indicates that garlic supplements can lower blood pressure and have many other health benefits. Garlic is a very popular vegetable among many different cultures and can be used in countless dishes.
- Ginger. Ginger root is known as a vasodilator. It can open up blood vessels to allow blood to pass through. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. The root of the ginger can be consumed fresh, powdered, dry as a spice, in oil form, or as a juice. There are many other health benefits linked to ginger root besides the fact that it can act like a vasodilator.
- Hawthorne. Hawthorne has been used for centuries to address blood circulation problems and heart issues. It can interact with other heart medications, so it is important to use Hawthorne under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.
- Parsley. Parsley is apopular herb that is also found in many different supplements is a natural vasodilator. The great thing about parsley is that it also contains other properties that promote good health. Since parsley does not have a strong flavor, it is used often in restaurants.
- Pomegranate. Pomegranate is capable of boosting nitric oxide, reducing inflammation, and reducing oxidative stress, which are all factors related to coronary artery disease. Polyphenols in pomegranate help convert nitrite into nitric oxide, making it a viable natural vasodilator inside human body.
- Rosemary. Fresh rosemary can increase blood flow and is a great food additive. Poultry and lamb are good examples of foods that many people sprinkle with rosemary.
- Spinach. In its fresh form (not tined/canned), this leafy vegetable is packed with nitrates. This versatile veggie can be added to soups, stews, pasta dishes, or even pizza.
- Walnuts. Walnut processes high quantity of L-arginine, so it helps to keep blood vessels open. Many other nuts are also good sources of L-arginine. Nutritionists suggest soaking nuts for five to six hours before consuming them. If you don’t like walnuts, you can consider almonds, cashews, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, or macadamia nuts.
Conclusion: While thinking best available natural vasodilator options, it is nice to see that there are a wide variety of foods to choose from. This must bring some reassurance, especially to those who are not keen on vasodilator medications, any use of foods to control vascular health should be discussed with a doctor. Taking treatment into your own hands can be dangerous. When planned in consultation with a healthcare professional though, foods can make a big difference when it comes to vasodilation.