Blood clotting is our body’s way of preventing excessive bleeding in case of injury or cut. This is an important process carried out by the proteins and platelets in our blood that work together to stop the bleeding by formulating a blood clot(1). Vitamin K is also an important factor in blood clotting, it is used in the synthesis of multiple blood coagulation factors that are vital to the process (8). Coagulation is a term used to describe the process of the blood being changed to a solid-state. These blood clots are meant to dissolve on their own once healed, and stay immobile. However, that is not always what happens. This is when you can benefit from a blood thinner, and there are natural ways you can do this. We are going to look into what can happen if a blood clot becomes severe, and the natural ways you can thin your blood.
What Happens when you Get a Blood Clot
When a blood clot is formed inside one of our veins and does not dissolve like it is supposed to and becomes mobile, it can travel through the veins to our heart, lungs, and other parts of our body and get stuck. When a blood clot gets stuck it can prevent blood flow and cause a serious medical emergency. Dependent on where the blood clot travels, it can cause numerous different ailments(2):
- Heart attack
- Pulmonary embolism
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Severe abdominal swelling
- Cardiovascular disease
This is when blood thinning is important. Commonly, people will use prescription medications like Warfarin, Heparin, Apixaban, and low-dose aspirin which is also known as acetylsalicylic acid. Aspirin makes our blood less sticky which can prevent it from forming a severe clot (3). While those are used to medically thin the blood, there are natural compounds found in food that can provide anti-clotting properties and be used as an alternative. A lot of these medications are derived from the properties in these foods. Let's check out some of the best blood thinning foods.
10 Foods that Naturally Thin your Blood:
As mentioned earlier, a common way to thin your blood is by using an acetylsalicylic acid. Ginger holds a natural chemical found in plants called salicylate acid, which is what acetylsalicylic acid is synthetically derived from so it holds a lot of the same benefits. Ginger's salicylic acid property is a natural way to thin your blood and can be used to prevent heart attack and stroke (4). There are a handful of other foods that contain salicylate acid such as:
- Most vegetables
Garlic has been around for centuries and is used for many different therapeutic purposes. One of those purposes is its prevention of thrombosis, thrombosis is a term used to describe the clotting of blood in a certain part of the circulatory system. Garlic has been shown to inhibit platelet adhesions, which lowers your chance of having a mobile blood clot travel throughout your veins in the body. Garlic also increases the elasticity of blood vessels, which helps the delivery of blood through your circulatory system (9). Furthermore, garlic is a great food to add to your diet to assist in natural blood thinning. It has many uses in dishes and can be an added flavor to salad dressings, sauces, vegetables, and stews.
Turmeric is a spice widely known for the variety of benefits that it offers. One of those being, and natural blood thinner. Turmeric holds an active ingredient called curcumin, this works as an anticoagulant. An anticoagulant can be used to prevent the formation of blood clots, thereby lowering your chances of getting one(4). Turmeric also works as an anti-inflammatory which reduces your chances of heart disease, and cancer. Ways you can incorporate turmeric into your diet include smoothies, soups, and adding it to scrambled eggs.
Cayenne pepper is another food high in salicylates. This spice is an anticoagulant that assists with natural blood-thinning abilities. Cayenne pepper increases circulation, which helps the blood from getting stuck and clotting. Along with its anticoagulation benefits, it also lowers blood pressure and reduces pain sensations (5). Although cayenne pepper holds many benefits, some people have a hard time consuming it because of how spicy it is. Ways to get these benefits and avoid the spice is taking it in capsule form, or finely ground it up and use it in small moderations.
Studies show Vitamin E has major blooding thinning capabilities, it does this by inhibiting the blood-clotting agent Vitamin K. As mentioned before, Vitamin K is used in the blood clotting process and in charge of producing the factors that are necessary to do it. Now, while we are looking to find ways to naturally thin our blood, we mustn't negatively affect the Vitamins our bodies use to heal injury and cuts. It is recommended for adults to take a daily amount of 15 milligrams of Vitamin E a day. However, it is a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider to ensure you are consuming the right amount to avoid complications (6). You can incorporate vitamin E through supplementation or food.
Here are some foods that contain Vitamin E (5):
- Sunflower seeds
- Vegetable oils
- Green leafy vegetables
Adding cinnamon to your diet is a great way to incorporate a natural blood thinner. Cinnamon contains a mighty blood-thinning agent called coumarin. One of the most common blood-thinning medications Warfarin is derived from this natural compound coumarin. Coumarin also works as an anti-inflammatory that can lower blood pressure, these benefits will decrease your chances of a blood clot to travel to our hearts or lungs (5). Ways you can add cinnamon to your diet is putting it in smoothies, stews, and in yogurt.
Ginkgo biloba is a tree native to China that has been around for thousands of years. It is known for its variety of uses, including its ability to improve blood circulation and heart health. People who suffer from blood disorders have been known to take this and see positive results. A study shows ginkgo presents quick results with increasing the circulation of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is responsible for opening up blood vessels, the opening of these blood vessels decreases the risk of blood clots getting stuck and causing serious problems. (10). You can incorporate Ginkgo Biloba by boiling it and adding it to a dish or take it in supplement form.
Salmon provides countless benefits due to its high amounts of omega-3s, one of those benefits being a natural anticoagulant. The important omega-3s are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA). A study shows DHA, EPA, and fats from omega-3 make nitric acid. As mentioned before, nitric acid is in charge of relaxing the blood vessels, so this leads to improved blood flow and decreased chances of clots (11). You can take fish oil supplements that contain omega-3 fatty acids or through food.
Here are some other foods that contain high levels of omega-3:
- Chia Seeds
- Plant oils
Bromelain might sound unfamiliar, but it is a protein-digesting enzyme that stems from pineapple. The way bromelain is composed offers numerous therapeutic effects, one of which is an inhibitor of blood platelet aggregation. This means the enzyme helps reduce the chances of a blood clot. Studies have shown this enzyme helps reduce the chance of getting a stroke, a heart attack, thrombosis, and other heart diseases that stem from blood clotting (12). You can consume this enzyme from the pineapple juice, having it extracted from the stem/core, or taking it in supplement form.
You might think, isn't chocolate bad for me? While it does contain fat and sugar, the good news is it has beneficial properties. Dark chocolate contains a compound called flavanol, flavanol has the capability of breaking platelet clumps that could be blocking blood vessels and causing a heart attack or stroke (13). While we aren't suggesting to consume an abundance of dark chocolate bars, having a modest amount once in a while can provide you some benefits.
While blood-thinning medications are widely used, it’s not common information that natural foods can offer the same benefit. As mentioned, avoiding blood clots is very important as it will help you avoid a heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, and other heart-related diseases. Adding the spices and incorporating the foods mentioned is a great natural remedy to avoid medication dependency and naturally thin your blood.