What we eat directly impacts our health. And that’s true for the health of our veins, too. Some foods are good for relieving varicose vein symptoms and keeping your other veins healthy, while others can worsen your vein condition. So without further ado, here is the best and worst diet for varicose veins.
Why diet is important for vein health and circulation
Just like any part of your body, the veins require a specific set of nutrients to stay healthy and strong. These include vitamins C, D, and E, as well as antioxidants. Fibre (while not directly affecting your veins) is also a great inclusion, as it minimises the strain on your abdominal veins.
Additionally, just like any other part of your body, there are some foods that veins don’t like. Too much sugar, salt, trans fats, and alcohol could result in plaque build-up, water retention, and sluggish circulation, increasing strain on your veins.
The best diet for varicose veins
Almonds, oats, and chia seeds
Try starting your morning with a bowl of oatmeal sprinkled with chia seeds and sliced almonds. These foods all have at least 10 grams of dietary fibre per 100g, with chia seeds containing a staggering 34.
Research shows that low-fibre diets aren’t great for your veins. In short, when you don’t get enough fibre, you can become constipated, increasing the pressure on the veins in your lower extremities and abdomen.
Bell peppers, chili peppers, and dark leafy greens
You can chop these into a salad along with some other fruits and veggies to boost your vitamin C intake. This vitamin helps your body produce collagen and elastin, which are the key building blocks of vein walls and are essential for keeping them strong and flexible. The stronger your vein walls are, the more resistant they’ll be to bulging.
Guava, strawberries, and papaya
These fruits have a very high vitamin C content. In fact, just one cup contains 90+ mg, the average adult’s entire recommended daily intake.
They’re also high in antioxidants. Some research shows that people with varicose veins are affected by oxidative stress. Put simply, oxidative stress is when you have too many free radicals in your body and not enough antioxidants to balance them out. As a result, the free radicals, which are essential in fighting pathogens, can instead start attacking your body’s protein structures (like collagen and elastin).
Antioxidants are also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, potentially reducing the appearance of varicose veins and associated swelling.
So, make a guava, strawberry and papaya smoothie or chop them up into a fruit salad.
Green tea and ginger
Green tea and ginger boost circulation. They also help break down fibrin, which is a compound that can cause partial blockages in the veins. With improved blood flow and fewer roadblocks, your veins’ job gets a bit easier.
Avocados, sunflower seeds, and hazelnuts
These foods are high in vitamin E, which:
- Has antioxidant properties to reduce swelling and protect you against free radicals
- And makes it harder for blood cells to stick together, improving your circulation and helping you avoid dangerous thrombi (blood clots).
Eggs, fish, and soy
Vitamin D is essential for helping your veins relax and contract and for keeping the muscles that support them strong.
Egg yolks and fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and herring are naturally high in this vitamin. But if you can’t eat animal products, getting enough vitamin D can be a bit tricky. You can opt for vitamin D-fortified products like soy milk. You could also try adding more mushrooms to your diet. Although these contain the less effective vitamin D2 (compared with the D3 found in animal products), they can also increase your overall vitamin D levels.
Other than foods, you can also get a good dose of vitamin D by standing in the sun for a few minutes. Just make sure it’s before 10 am or after 4 pm to protect your skin.
The OK diet for varicose veins
Dairy is perfectly fine in small doses, but too much can slow your digestion and cause constipation, potentially worsening your varicose vein symptoms.
Do note though, if you can eat dairy, you shouldn’t cut it out of your diet completely. When it comes to veins, dairy products have been found to reduce the risk of high blood pressure. And outside of varicose veins, dairy products provide an easily absorbable source of calcium, which is crucial for bone health.
Dark chocolate has a decent amount of fibre (11%), antioxidants, and flavonoids. Some studies show that dark chocolate can also reduce blood pressure, thus decreasing the strain on healthy and varicose veins.
However, dark chocolate does have sugar and is quite high in calories. To avoid weight-related strain on varicose veins, it’s best to consume it in moderation.
The worst diet for varicose veins
Most types of fast foods contain high amounts of trans fats and sodium. While you don’t need to cut them out of your diet completely, we’d strongly recommend only eating them a couple of times a week as a treat.
- Trans fats increase your cholesterol levels. Over time, high cholesterol causes plaque to build up in the arteries, which slows your circulation. And the slower your circulation is, the more difficult it will be for your body to move blood out of the congested varicose vein, potentially worsening symptoms. Poor circulation can also increase your risk of varicose vein-related skin problems like varicose eczema, as the skin tissues don’t get the oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy.
- Sodium, meanwhile, increases water retention and makes the blood thicker and harder to move through the veins. Hence, it can worsen swelling and further impact your circulation.
Sausage, bacon, and deli meats like prosciutto and salami are also high in sodium. Again, you don’t have to stop eating them. Just be mindful not to eat them too frequently, opt for lower-salt alternatives when you can, and balance them out with antioxidant-rich foods and drinking plenty of water.
A couple of glasses of wine is fine. But the higher your blood alcohol level is, the more sluggish your circulation becomes. If you want to have a few drinks, make sure you’re also getting enough water to balance it out.
Make sure to get plenty of fibre and vitamins C, D, and E and cut down on trans fats, salt and alcohol. These changes will help reduce the stress on your varicose veins and help keep healthy veins strong. Keep in mind that you don’t have to cut out “bad” foods completely; it’s all about moderation and balance. And of course, you can (in most cases) substitute good food with an alternative if you don’t particularly like them or they don’t fit with your diet (keto, vegan, etc.).
If you’re experiencing swelling, itching, fatigue, and pain as a result of your varicose veins, it may be time to seek specialist advice.
We at The Vein Institute specialise in treating varicose veins via safe, effective, and minimally invasive methods.
Book your consultation by calling 13 VEINS (that’s 13 83467) or request an appointment online: Contact Us