A Healthy Diet Protects Circulation

Healthnotes Newswire (February 22, 2007)—Eating a healthy diet that includes vegetables, fruit, and fish has another benefit: it prevents blood clots from forming in the blood vessels, according to new research.

A thrombus is a blood clot that forms on the inner wall of a blood vessel when a defect or injury on that spot causes an inflammatory reaction. When a thrombus breaks free and travels though the body it is known as an embolus. Most people don’t know they have thrombi because in the early stages they generally don’t cause symptoms, but they are extremely serious. Blockage of coronary arteries can result in heart attack and disrupting blood flow through small arteries in the brain can cause stroke.

These types of thrombi are known to be influenced by eating habits. The current study, published in Circulation, looked at how eating specific foods and nutrients affected the risk of venous thrombosis. More than 15,000 adults from 45 to 64 years old underwent physical exams, filled out diet questionnaires, and were monitored for an average of 12.5 years.

The people who ate the most fruits and vegetables were the least likely to have thrombi in the veins (venous thrombosis). Eating 1 or more servings of fish per day was also protective, but eating 1.5 or more servings of red or processed meats per day doubled the risk.

Further analysis showed that people with diets high in folic acid, vitamin B6, and omega-3 fatty acids (such as those from fish) were protected against thrombus formation compared with people who took in little to none of these specific nutrients.

The researchers noted in their conclusion, “Our findings provide evidence that a diet including abundant plant food and fish and little meat is associated with lower risk of incident VTE [venous thromboembolism].”

(Circulation 2007;115:188–95)

Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice in Quechee, VT, and does extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.

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