People with certain disorders should be careful what they eat in order to keep their blood from clotting.
Blood clotting is the process by which the blood thickens and forms clots. Clots prevent blood loss (hemorrhage) in the event of an injury. It is a crucial part of hemostasis: stopping the loss of blood from damaged blood vessels.
In hemostasis, the wall of a damaged blood vessel is covered with a clot made up of fibrins and platelets in order to stop bleeding and repair the damage. On the other hand, when certain factors affect blood clotting, the following disorders may occur:
- Heart attacks
- Artery embolisms
- Pulmonary embolisms
- Thrombosis of the renal vein
- Deep vein thrombosis
Thrombi are obstructions that form from coagulated blood and cells that prevent blood from flowing through that point. Thrombi produce inflammation, with pain and edema of affected tissues. This phenomenon is called thrombosis.
If you have any of these conditions, your doctor may prescribe certain drugs to reduce the risk of blood clotting. Many doctors will also prescribe daily aspirin. In addition to these medications, there are also plants and foods that can prevent blood clotting.
To reduce the risk of internal thrombosis or blood clots, the recommended diet is low in saturated fats and rich in fiber as well as fruits and vegetables. In particular, certain foods have anticoagulant properties.
Plants and foods that prevent blood clotting
When needed, doctors prescribe daily aspirin to reduce the risk of blood clotting and avoid complications. According to the National Institutes of Health, the components of aspirin responsible for reducing the risk of blood clotting are known as salicylates. Salicylates can also be found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
Foods rich in salicylates:
- Grapes and grape derivatives: wine, vinegar, cider, raisins
- Berries: strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries
- Plums and prunes
- Oranges and tangerines
- Black currant
- Chili peppers
Herbs and spices rich in salicylates are: curry, cayenne, paprika, thyme, turmeric, ginger, licorice and mint.
Omega 3 fatty acids
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, omega 3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that help regulate blood clotting. Most people believe that to get enough omega 3 fatty acids, they must consume a diet that is high in fish.
While fish is indeed a source of omega 3 fatty acids, you can also find omega 3 in many vegetables, including brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, and lettuce. Other sources of omega 3 are flaxseed, sunflower seeds, canola oil, corn oil and soybeans.
A 2011 study published in the journal Thrombosis Research examined the effects of vitamin E on the formation of blood clots. What researchers discovered is that the vitamin is able to inhibit platelets, the cells responsible for coagulation, and thus works as a natural anticoagulant.
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, vitamin E can be found in a variety of oils, as well as in spinach, broccoli, kiwi, mangos, and tomatoes.
Alcohol is a potent anticoagulant. The mechanism seems to be a reduction in platelet aggregation, reduced levels of fibrinogen (a blood coagulant), and an increase in fibrinolysis, the process by which blood clots dissolve.
Food to avoid
Foods rich in vitamin K stimulate the formation of clots. Therefore, people susceptible to thrombosis should avoid consuming them. Foods rich in vitamin K include green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach, broccoli, and asparagus, as well as some fruits, like peaches and bananas.
The big question is, how can we avoid becoming a patient or, worse, a statistic? The pharmaceutical approach is take a low dose of aspirin daily to thin the blood. But nature has given us great resources to treat inappropriate blood coagulation.
- One of the natural options most commonly used is cod fish oil.
- The Allium family (garlic and onion) work because they contain sulfur and are effective in treating blood pressure problems. Garlic is anti-inflammatory, reduces cholesterol, relaxes blood vessels and decreases the agglutination of platelets.
- Turmeric, or its component curcumin, reduces inflammation and the formation of dangerous plaques.
- Ginger promotes circulation, lowers high blood pressure and discourages the formation of clots.
While fruits and vegetables are part of a balanced diet, excesses can cause complications. If you are being treated with anticoagulants, you should avoid the aforementioned foods. Don’t forget to inform your doctor about the medicines you take and what your usual diet is like.