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Blood clots are an essential natural process in the human body. Clotting that occurs within the circulatory system however causes reduction of blood flow and blocked arteries, leading to heart attacks or strokes. Drugs such as warfarin or coumadin, clopidogrel or plavix, and aspirin inhibit platelet aggregation and thin the blood. Such medication however causes side effects, making natural blood thinning foods a better alternative.
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The omega-3 fatty acid found in fish and fish oil exerts a mild influence on platelets, preventing them from sticking and reducing the ability of blood to clot. Omega-3 also inhibits the lipid thromboxane, which stimulates activation of new platelets.
Omega-3 fatty acids also increase the effects of blood thinning medications. Many health care providers recommend a combination of aspirin and omega-3 fatty acids for heart patients.
Mackerel, anchovies, salmon, albacore tuna, lake trout, and herrings are some fish high in omega-3 fatty acid and rank prominent in the list of foods that thin blood.
Image Credit: flickr.com/Kim
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Ginger finds use as traditional medicine since ancient time in many Asian cultures. Studies show that the chemicals gingerol and salicylates present in ginger prevent blood platelets from sticking, the first step in clot formation.
Excessive consumption of ginger may however cause heartburn, excessive gas, and nausea. A good option is consumption of ginger ale.
Image Credit: flickr.com/Delphine Menard
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Like ginger, turmeric also finds widespread use in traditional medicine, and contributes to thinning the blood. Turmeric guards against clot formation in the blood by inhibiting the activity of fibrinogen, an enzyme that contributes to the series of reactions that occur during the formation of a blood clot.
Research has validated much of the traditional medicinal properties of turmeric. Experiments on animals show that consumption of turmeric limit the size of blood clots formed with hemorrhagic stroke.
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Other Foods Containing Salicylates
Salicylates, a natural plant-based chemical inhibit vitamin K. Vitamin K plays a major role in clotting blood, and the presence of salicylates in the body ensures thinner blood.
Many herbs, spices, and fruits rank among foods that thin blood owing to their high salicylate content. Apart from ginger, and turmeric, other such foods containing salicylates to thin the blood include cayenne pepper, raisins, grapes, dates, blueberries, cinnamon, paprika, licorice, and honey among others.
Garlic and Onions also have salicylates, and rank among the prominent foods that thin the blood, as does red wine.
Other foods with high level of salicylates, such as broccoli contain vitamin K that aid in clotting the blood.
Alcohol thins the blood, but its many other serious negative effects ensures that it does more harm than good. For instance, it increases the risk of strokes due to bleeding.
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Green Tea and Other Beverages
Beverages such as green tea, cranberry juice and grape juice inhibit the human enzyme that works to clot the blood and thereby thins the blood.
The catechins in green tea help thin the blood and prevent formation of blood clots by inhibiting the formation of pro-inflammatory compounds such as arachidonic acid that cause platelets to clump together. Green tea also inhibits the production of thromboxane, a modified type of fatty acid circulating in the bloodstream. Lower blood levels of thromboxane inhibit clot formation. Green tea's potent anti-oxidants improve blood pressure and lower cholesterol, both which contribute to blood clot.
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Evidence suggests that vitamin E has blood-thinning properties. Foods high in vitamin E however may not necessarily thin the blood, for many foods high in vitamin E such as spinach and broccoli do not rank amongst the foods that cause blood thinning, for they also contain significant amounts of vitamin K, which tend to clot the blood.
One important consideration when trying to thin blood is to consult a physician or health care provider before beginning self-treatment. The physician can make an accurate assessment of blood cholesterol and platelet stickiness based on laboratory test results. Thinning the blood and inhibiting clots outside the desired range can cause serious complications including excessive bleeding even during minor bruises. Certain blood thinning foods can interfere with medication.
This article does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to treat.
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- Nutrition ATC. Drugs and Diet can Thin your Blood. http://www.nutritionatc.hawaii.edu/HO/2005/295.htm Retrieved 16 October 2010
- University of Maryland Medical Center. Ginger. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/ginger-000246.htm. Retrieved 16 October 2010.
- University of Maryland Medical Center. Omega-3 Acids. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/omega-3-000971.htm retrieved 16 October 2010
- CaringMedical.com. Thinking Thin-Meaning your Blood. http://www.caringmedical.com/media/article.asp?article_id=360. Retrieved 16 October 2010
- George Meteljen Foundation. Green Tea. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=146. retrieve 16 October 2010
- SixWise.com. What are Salicylates. http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/06/02/08/what-are-salicylates-could-salicylates-be-zapping-your-energy-and-making-you-feel-ill.htm#chart. Retrieved 16 October 2010.