Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is a condition in which a blood clot (also called a “thrombus”) forms in the deep veins of the body, particularly in the legs. While some folks are predisposed to clotting because of blood diseases, others may need to be careful because of certain of risk factors, like birth control, pregnancy, recent surgery, or a sedentary lifestyle. Blood thinners and anticoagulants can help control DVT, but they’re not for everyone. Luckily, certain dietary changes may be able to prevent the development of blood clots.
One of the most important aspects of a DVT diet is staying hydrated. Less water in your body means less fluid in your blood—and when your blood doesn’t have the liquid it needs, it gets thicker. This makes clot formation even easier than normal. Most recommendations suggest somewhere in the neighborhood of six to eight cups of water each day for the average person. However, on hot days or days when you’re more active, you need to replace all that sweat with extra water.
2. Grape Juice
Another great beverage for DVT is grape juice—and yes, that even means wine! Purple grapes have been found to contain flavonoids, a nutrient found in plants that seem to offer quite a few potential health benefits. These include controlling platelet build up and fibrin production, both of which can influence blood clotting. A glass of grape juice or wine per day may provide sufficient flavonoids to help keep your veins in order, but don’t go overboard with them—excessive alcohol and sugar consumption can lead to health problems of their own.
3. Food Seasonings
Although you probably want to keep your salt intake low—high sodium consumption isn’t great for the heart—that doesn’t mean your food has to be bland on a DVT diet. Lots of other spices and seasonings have high levels of salicylates, which is a compound that can keep your blood from clotting as much. These include:
Cinnamon is also a natural anticoagulant because of a chemical it contains called coumarin, which promotes blood thinning. However, it’s important to discuss using cinnamon with a doctor beforehand, as it can interact with prescription anticoagulants. Additionally, cinnamon may cause liver damage when used long term.
Finally, garlic is another seasoning with a reputation for keeping blood clots under control. Known for being a natural blood thinner, regular garlic consumption can be great for the cardiovascular system as a whole. Garlic also has great antioxidant properties, which another boon for blood clotting and a healthy heart.
It’s important to get plenty of fruit mixed into your diet if you want to keep deep vein thrombosis at bay. And while there are lots of fruits that are good for healthy clotting, kiwi seems to be especially beneficial if you’re susceptible to DVT. Kiwis actually lower clot risks by reducing the amount of platelet activity in the blood, which means clotting won’t occur as easily. As an extra bonus, kiwis are great for lowering cholesterol and have tons of vitamin C. Both of these things make them even more beneficial for normal blood clotting. Keeping things like cholesterol levels in check makes for a healthier cardiovascular system overall, and vitamin C has been found beneficial in controlling DVT-related clots.
Berries, of all varieties, are another great option for fighting deep vein thrombosis. Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, and raspberries are particularly known for their high salicylate content—which we’ve already seen helps prevent excessive clotting.
Vitamin C, in particular, is a necessity to the human body, and some types of berries tend to be very high in this nutrient. However, the relationship between blood clots and vitamin C is a bit complicated. Some studies have found that a deficiency of vitamin C can cause clotting issues, but other studies have shown that too much vitamin C can also cause blood clots to form. In any case, it’s good for the walls of the blood vessels, and if you’re concerned about heart health beyond DVT, getting plenty of vitamin C may be something to think about.
Keeping your weight under control is essential for fighting DVT and promoting cardiovascular health. And supplementing your diet with plenty of vegetables is one of the best ways you can accomplish this. In fact, one study showed that an increase of fruits and vegetables reduced the risk of clots by nearly half. There’s such a wide range of vegetables that have good things in them, it’s hard to pick just a few that are exceptionally great for DVT. However, B vitamins, B-6 in particular, seem to be good for clotting. Potatoes are a great source of vitamin B-6—in a just one cup of you’ll receive about a third of your recommended daily amount.
However, be sure to monitor your potato intake carefully. They’re a bit higher in calories than most other vegetables, which may give you problems in terms of maintaining a healthy weight.
If you like to keep things spicy, peppers are a great addition to your DVT diet. Peppers tend to be high in vitamin C, which we already know is good for the veins—cayenne pepper is especially good for improving blood pressure and circulation. Bell peppers have a decent amount of vitamin E and vitamin B-6, and both of these can promote healthy clotting. They’re also a decent source of fiber, which some experts theorize is good for DVT and clotting because it reduces the need for you to strain while going to the bathroom. This keeps the excessive amounts of pressure off the veins in the lower half of the body—the exact place where DVT occurs.
8. Olive Oil
You might think you have to stay away from any sort of fat or oil if you’re having issues keeping your veins clear of clots. Animal fat, in particular, is bad for clotting, which does mean you should take it easy on the steaks and bacon. However, monounsaturated fats, like those in olive oil, are actually great for a heart healthy diet.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that the phenols contained in virgin olive oil can actually help prevent clots by lowering chemicals like factor VII that encourage the blood to form clots. Additionally, these phenols have antioxidant properties, which means overall healthier blood vessels. Try substituting olive oil for other oils or butter in recipes to increase your consumption. It also makes a great salad dressing or dips for bread.
While you want to avoid high-fat meats in your DVT diet, you still need to get protein from somewhere, and fish is a great alternative. Several varieties, like salmon, anchovies, and herring, are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for the cardiovascular system, and DVT in particular. In fact, they can improve cholesterol levels and help blood vessels that are getting thick and causing atherosclerosis, a condition which can also lead to excessive clotting. In general, you should try to fit at least two servings of fish into your weekly diet.
Walnuts are another great source of omega-3 fatty acids, especially if you don’t eat animal products. In addition to this heart healthy nutrient, they also contain vitamin E, which acts as a natural anticoagulant. This combination makes walnuts a great asset to a diet to fight deep vein thrombosis.