Blood is one of the major fluids in the human body. Our health depends on the composition, viscosity, and consistency of blood.
Problems occur when the blood’s viscosity is high. Viscosity is the state of being thick, so when we say that the blood is high in viscosity it means it is too thick.
The good news is that with the help of proper and balanced nutrition it is possible to normalize blood viscosity.
In this article, we will look at what it means to have thick blood; and how by making changes to our diet it is possible to thin it and avoid the dreaded blood clotting.
Thick blood and thrombosis: causes, symptoms, and possible complications
The condition where blood is thicker and stickier than what is normal is known as hypercoagulability. Hypercoagulability also makes one prone to excess blood clots.
Senst B, Tadi P, Basit H, et al. Hypercoagulability. [Updated 2022 Sep 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-
The condition arises because of anomalous clotting. This can be due to several reasons, including:
- vitamin and mineral deficiencies;
- certain prescribed medications;
- being overweight;
- excess of toxins in the system;
- alcohol consumption;
- elevated cholesterol levels;
- hypoxia (low oxygen levels in body tissues).
Thick blood can impede the movement of oxygen, hormones, and nutrients and prevent them from reaching tissues and cells.
When somebody has thick blood there are often no symptoms other than the formation of blood clots, also known as thrombosis. The symptoms of thrombosis include pain and swelling in a limb (usually a leg), numbness, and chest pain. These symptoms are mostly mild and in most cases are left untreated.
In addition, the following symptoms can be the warning signs of thrombosis:
- blurred vision;
- easy bruising;
- excessive menstrual bleeding with blood clots present;
- high blood pressure;
- lack of energy;
- shortness of breath (dyspnea);
A blood clot can break away from the point of its origin and travel through the veins. This can have potentially life-threatening outcomes. Two such complications are deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) usually occurs in the legs but can also be found in other parts of the body such as thighs, arms, abdomen, and pelvis.
Stone J, Hangge P, Albadawi H, Wallace A, Shamoun F, Knuttien MG, Naidu S, Oklu R. Deep vein thrombosis: pathogenesis, diagnosis, and medical management. Cardiovasc Diagn Ther. 2017 Dec;7(Suppl 3):S276-S284
Symptoms of DVT include:
- swelling, redness around the affected area;
- gradual onset of pain around the affected area;
- leg pain when the foot is flexed;
- leg cramps and pain;
- skin discoloration around the affected area.
Pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when blood clots block a blood vessel in the lungs. This prevents normal blood flow and decreases the oxygen levels in the blood.
Tarbox AK, Swaroop M. Pulmonary embolism. Int J Crit Illn Inj Sci. 2013 Jan;3(1):69-72. doi: 10.4103/2229-5151.109427. PMID: 23724389; PMCID: PMC3665123
Symptoms of PE include:
- shortness of breath and rapid breathing;
- heart palpitations;
- chest pain when breathing;
- coughing up blood;
- chest pain.
for your health and
balanced meal plan
As Hippocrates said, you are what you eat. The meaning of this phrase concerns every person, who takes care of his health. The food we eat has a big impact on our vital activity, state of health and quality of life.
Nowadays healthy diet is very popular and everyone knows that he should give up junk food. But not everyone knows what he must eat except for grain, vegetables and protein food.
It's essential to diversify your diet. Every bite of food should provide you with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that are necessary for good health.
So how can we have a proper nutrition plan?
We prepared a PDF-file to help you. It contains TOP-10 ingredients, which should be added to everyone's diet.
Blood clotting can also lead to other serious complications:
- Strokes occur when a blood clot blocks an artery that sends oxygenated blood to the brain.
- Heart attacks occur when a blood clot blocks a coronary artery.
- An acute kidney injury occurs when one or both veins in the kidneys are blocked by blood clots.
Who is at risk of blood clotting
- Pregnant women. Thrombosis occurs relatively often in pregnancy. This is because the body prepares to lose blood during childbirth and blood clotting helps to reduce the amount of blood that is lost. In addition, there can be less blood flow to the legs as the blood vessels in the pelvis region are pressed upon by the growing uterus.
Venous Thromboembolism (Blood Clots) and Pregnancy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, available Nov 19, 2022.
- Use of hormonal contraceptives. One of the potential side effects of contraceptives is acute venous thrombosis. This is because the contraceptives deceive the body into thinking it is already pregnant, so the body enters the same process of preparing for the blood loss as in pregnancy. Although efforts are made to reduce this side effect of hormonal contraceptives, the incidence of blood clotting is at least 3-4 times higher in those who take them than in those who do not.
Bonnar J. Coagulation effects of oral contraception. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1987 Oct;157(4 Pt 2):1042-8
- Smoking. Nicotine provokes releasing of thromboxane – a powerful blood clotting factor, especially in women.
Al-Nasser B. Influence of Tobacco Smoking on Perioperative Risk of Venous Thromboembolism. Turk J Anaesthesiol Reanim. 2020 Feb;48(1):11-16
- Overweight and obesity. Excess weight is another factor that can lead to thrombosis.
Hotoleanu C. Association between obesity and venous thromboembolism. Med Pharm Rep. 2020 Apr;93(2):162-168
- Tumors. Blood clotting is a common complication in people with both malignant and benign tumors. Tumors damage tissues in the body and can lead to swelling which, in turn, provokes clotting. Tumors can also secrete chemical compounds triggering blood clots. Often, thrombosis is the first clinical sign of developing cancer.
Venous Thromboembolism (Blood Clots) and Cancer, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, available Nov 19, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/dvt/cancer.html
- Long-haul flights. A long-haul flight in a cramped airplane seat with legs bent and forced inactivity can provoke blood clotting. Thrombosis on flights is common enough to get nick-named the “economy class syndrome”.
Dusse LMS, Silva MVF, Freitas LG, Marcolino MS, Carvalho MDG. Economy class syndrome: what is it and who are the individuals at risk? Rev Bras Hematol Hemoter. 2017 Oct-Dec;39(4):349-353
- Elderly. Physical inactivity in the elderly can cause blood stasis – a condition characterized by a slowing in blood flow. Blood stasis is one of the main risk factors for developing blood clotting.
- Atherosclerosis. The atherosclerotic plaques narrow the arteries which results in poor circulation – the number one reason for the formation of blood clots.
- Thrombophilia. This condition is characterized by an increased tendency for blood clotting. Thrombophilia is often genetic or inherited. But in some cases, it can develop due to an imbalance in the way that blood thickens (which is an important process that helps us to stop bleeding from wounds, for example).
If you fall into one of the above 9 risk groups, it is important to do the following regularly:
Coagulation tests are laboratory tests that evaluate how efficiently hemostasis works (hemostasis is a reaction responsible for us stopping bleeding and for repairing the damage in injury). The tests are routinely used by healthcare providers in monitoring patients who take medications that affect blood clotting.
The coagulation tests include:
Fibrinogen level: Fibrinogen is a protein found in blood cells called platelets. Elevated fibrinogen levels may increase the risk of developing blood clots.
Prothrombin time is a test that includes 3 parameters that assess the rate of blood clot formation.
APTT (activated partial thromboplastin time) test measures how long it takes for the clot to form.
Thrombin time is another test that evaluates how quickly clots form.
The results of the coagulation tests can be affected by certain prescribed medications as well as supplements. It is therefore recommended to let your health professional know of any medication and supplements you are taking and to bring medication package inserts to the appointment.
The D-dimer test is used primarily when thrombosis is suspected. It is also employed in the diagnosis of conditions such as disseminated vascular coagulation syndrome.
The D-dimer results are usually considered in conjunction with the hemoglobin levels as the increase in both is indicative of thick blood.
Elevated results on the D-dimer test alone may be reflective of other reasons. For example, the D-dimer is constantly increased during pregnancy and can be 3-4 times more than what is normal by the end of the 9 months.
A Thrombolia screen is a suite of extended tests that are used to diagnose thrombophilia. It is recommended for those with a family history of thrombosis or thromboembolism, and/or cases of the sudden death of relatives under the age of 55 (father, mother, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, grandparents) with clotting being the suspected cause. The thrombophilia screen is normally quite expensive.
How nutrition can help in fighting blood clotting
Nutritionists always aim to restore normal body functions. In instances of thick blood, normal blood consistency can be restored through a balance of proper hydration and diet.
It has been shown that hydration is one of the factors that can cause blood to thicken.
T. Doi, et al. Plasma Volume and Blood Viscosity During 4 h Sitting in a Dry Environment. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, 75, 6 (2004) 500-504
To prevent hydration, a daily water intake should be at least half an ounce for each pound of your weight. If you drink tea, coffee, juices, or other drinks instead of water, the daily amount of liquid should be higher still.
Lack of proteins and amino acids in the diet is another cause of thick blood. It is crucial to maintain a balanced diet providing your body with essential amounts of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and other macro and microelements.
The most valuable amino acid that helps to normalize blood consistency is taurine. We recommend foods rich in taurine, such as seafood, or supplementation with vitamin complexes containing this amino acid.
It is also important to maintain vitamin balance. It has been shown that vitamin imbalances can contribute to atherosclerosis and blood clotting.
Agarwal M, Mehta PK, Dwyer JH, Dwyer KM, Shircore AM, Nordstrom CK, Sun P, Paul-Labrador M, Yang Y, Merz CN. Differing Relations to Early Atherosclerosis between Vitamin C from Supplements vs. Food in the Los Angeles Atherosclerosis Study: A Prospective Cohort Study. Open Cardiovasc Med J. 2012;6:113-21. doi: 10.2174/1874192401206010113. Epub 2012 Sep 7. PMID: 23002405; PMCID: PMC3447163
Glynn RJ, Ridker PM, Goldhaber SZ, Zee RY, Buring JE. Effects of random allocation to vitamin E supplementation on the occurrence of venous thromboembolism: report from the Women’s Health Study. Circulation. 2007 Sep 25;116(13):1497-503
To normalize the consistency of the blood, it is essential to exclude products that can contribute to blood thickening, such as bananas, buckwheat, chokeberry, and nettle.
Plants can help to normalize blood viscosity. For example, yellow sweet clover collected and dried during the flowering period can be used in a form of tea. It can also be mixed with other herbs such as:
- Red clover flowers.
- Meadowsweet grass.
- Hawthorn berries.
- Valerian Officinalis roots.
- Lemon balm.
- Narrow-leaved fireweed.
The above herbs must be mixed in equal proportions. To prepare the tea, brew 2 teaspoons of the herbal mix in 350 – 400 ml of boiling water. The brew should be kept over low steam throughout the day and consumed in small seeps.
The following dietary recommendations should help to normalize blood viscosity.
Chose plant-based foods
Vegetables provide the body with fluids, vitamins, minerals, and fiber which are crucial for normal blood coagulation.
Reduce your consumption of animal fat
Excess animal fat does not get absorbed by the body but settles instead on the inner walls of blood vessels, impeding the blood flow. This includes full-fat dairy products.
The question that comes to mind is, should you avoid all kinds of fat on this diet? No, fat is an important component for our health. This is because the fatty acids are an integral part of the blood cells’ lipid membranes that prevent them from sticking to one another. But for our purposes, it must the the correct type of fat. Omega-3 is the kind of beneficial fat that we should consume when dealing with thick blood. You can find Omega-3 in fatty fish, algae, flaxseed, and linseed oils.
Ideally, your meal plan should include low-fat meat (turkey or chicken), sea fish, and eggs. Low-fat meat is a healthier option than full-fat meat because it contains less saturated fat and more protein. The saturated fat count is much higher in red meat which is associated with higher heart disease risk.
Study finds potential link between eating saturated fat from meat and heart disease risk
Exclude fast-food and junk food
Fast food and snacks like chips and soda do not provide any nutritional value but add excess calories and contain many preservatives, dyes, flavors, excess salt, and low-quality ingredients.
A sample blood-thinning 1- day meal plan
Breakfast: Poached eggs with avocado and whole grain bread.
- 1 tomato, halved;
- ½ tsp olive oil;
- 1 egg;
- half of avocado;
- 1 big slice of seeded wholemeal bread;
- a handful of rocket salad.
Preheat a non-sticking frying pan, add olive oil and 2 halves of tomato – place them the cut side down. Cook until the tomato has softened. Preheat a pan with a little water, salt, and vinegar. Break in the egg. Leave it to poach for 3 minutes. Scoop out the flesh of the avocado and spread it on the bread. On top of the avocado, add the egg, salt, and pepper to taste, and a handful of rocket salad. Serve with the tomato on the side.
Snack: Low-fat cottage cheese (about 3 ounces) with 1 ounce of berries and 1 ounce of almonds.
Lunch: Wild rice pilaf with pieces of chicken or turkey (recipe includes 3 servings).
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil;
- 1 onion, chopped;
- 1 carrot, finely cut.
2 stalks of celery, finely cut;
- 2 oz. sliced mushrooms;
- 2 oz. chicken or turkey, chopped (the leftovers from your Sunday roast would be ideal);
- 1 clove of garlic, minced;
- 1 cup of wild rice;
- 1,5 cups of chicken broth;
- 0,5 teaspoon salt;
- a hint of cayenne pepper;
- 0,5 teaspoon turmeric;
- 0.25 cup chopped fresh parsley.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot, medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot pieces, and cook until softened (about 5 minutes). Add the mushrooms. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes. Add chicken or turkey pieces. Stir in the garlic and turmeric. Rinse the wild rice under cold water. Add it to vegetables and chicken, and season with salt and cayenne pepper.
Add chicken broth and bring it to a boil under a lid. Lower the heat and simmer until the liquid is absorbed (about 50 minutes). When the pilaf is cooked, let it rest for a couple of minutes. Then serve with parsley and season if needed.
Dinner: Salmon baked with vegetables (recipe for 2 servings)
- 6-8 oz salmon (2 fillets);
- 1 zucchini;
- 1 red or yellow pepper;
- 1 small onion;
- 0,5 teaspoon Italian seasoning mix;
- 0,5 teaspoon garlic powder;
- 0,25 teaspoon turmeric;
- salt and pepper to taste;
- 1 tablespoon olive oil;
- fresh parsley, finely chopped;
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges or slices.
Preheat oven to 375F. Mix all the spices in a bowl – Italian seasoning mix, turmeric, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cut zucchini, peppers, and onion into pieces of preferred size. Mix them with half of the seasoning mixture and olive oil. Place the veggies on the baking pan and bake for 15 min. Meanwhile, season the salmon fillet with the second half of the spice mixture. Put the salmon onto the veggies and bake for another 8-10 minutes, until the fish is ready. Serve with chopped parsley and sliced lemon.
Natural blood thinners
Here we present the top 27 blood-thinning foods and substances that help reduce the risk of blood clots.
The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and blood-thinning properties.
Contains a natural acid called salicylate which is a powerful blood thinner. Ginger can be added in a form of spice to all dishes.
- Cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper is also high in salicylates and can act as a powerful blood-thinning agent.
- Vitamin E
Vitamin E reduces blood clotting in several different ways. These effects depend on the amount of vitamin E taken.
Foods containing vitamin E include:
- whole grain products
- wheat germ oil
- sunflower seeds
- sunflower oil
Garlic has natural antibiotics and powerful antimicrobial components.
- Cassia and cinnamon
Cinnamon contains coumarin which is a powerful blood thinner. Cassia is a Chinese type of cinnamon, and it contains much more coumarin than ordinary cinnamon.
- Ginkgo biloba
Ginkgo is used effectively in cases of blood coagulation disorders, memory problems, and low energy. Ginko thins the blood and has fibrinolytic effects which mean that it can dissolve blood clots.
- Grape seed extract
It contains antioxidants that act as a natural blood thinner. They can protect blood vessels and prevent high blood pressure.
This traditional Chinese herb helps to reduce blood clotting with the help of the coumarin it contains – the same substance that makes cinnamon such a powerful anticoagulant.
It is a medicinal herb that acts as a blood thinner by inhibiting platelet activity and preventing blood clotting.
- Willow bark
It contains salicin, which is converted by our bodies to salicylate – a blood-thinning substance affecting blood platelets. You can prepare a willow bark drink at home by infusing 1 tablespoon of crushed branches and bark in a flask in 500 ml of boiling water. Drink 200-250 ml twice a day: morning and evening.
- Sea kale (kelp) and other types of algae
It is a natural blood thinner; thanks to the large amounts of iodine they contain.
This tropical fruit contains a special enzyme that can break down clots and reduce their formation.
This herb suppresses platelet activity and prevents blood from clotting. While chamomile tea is generally considered to be safe, it is best not to consume it in conjunction with blood-thinning medications.
- Foods high in omega-3
Omega-3 acids improve blood flow and normalize blood pressure; increase the levels of the beneficial HDL (high-density lipoproteins) cholesterol; and strengthen the walls of blood vessels. In addition, Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the concentration of homocysteine, an amino acid that can damage the inner walls of the arteries contributing to the formation of blood clots. For this reason, products such as fatty fish, nuts, vegetable oils, and flax seeds should be included in the diet.
- Red cabbage
All members of the cabbage family are beneficial, but the red cabbage in particular has a very high content of potassium as well as vitamins C and B. These substances help improve blood quality and prevent the formation of blood clots.
Tomatoes are rich in salicylates – derivatives of salicylic acid. Salicylates affect blood platelets, preventing them from sticking to one another. In addition, vitamin C and lycopene, which are also found in tomatoes, strengthen the circulatory system. Three-to-four fresh tomatoes a day are enough to keep you in check.
Drinks made from fresh berries as well as fragrant tea from dried raspberry leaves help to lower cholesterol and prevent atherosclerosis.
Natural antioxidants found in cranberries help to strengthen the cardiovascular system and the immune system; and to reduce inflammation.
Vitamins A, C, and coumarins in the blueberries help prevent blood clotting.
It contains flavonoids that thin the blood, prevent the formation of blood clots, strengthen blood vessels, and normalize blood cholesterol levels.
- Wheat sprouts
It is an excellent blood thinner. For the best effect, 1 tbsp a day can be added to salads together with linseed oil.
- Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits like lemons contain vitamin C and a lot of liquid juice which makes them excellent at thinning the blood.
This topical fruit contains fiber and a lot of vitamin C which acts as an antioxidant. Kiwis help to maintain normal cholesterol levels.
Dates contain essential oils that thin the blood.
- Dandelion leaf
Dandelion leaf juice can prevent blood clots. Chopped leaves can be added to salads.
Raw celery and celery juice are excellent blood thinners; celery juice is best to be consumed on an empty stomach.
We hope you found this article useful!