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What Foods Act Like Blood Thinners?

By Karen Curinga

Blood thinners make it more difficult for blood clots to develop by increasing the time it takes for a blood clot to form, or by preventing blood platelets -- tiny blood components -- from clumping together. They're often recommended for people with heart disease or for those with poor blood flow to the brain. Although pharmaceutical blood thinners are available, certain foods also contain blood-thinning properties.


Garlic contains blood-thinning properties that may help protect you from heart attack, stroke and atherosclerosis, a condition where plaque builds up in arteries, according to University of Maryland Medical Center. This plaque buildup reduces the available pathway for blood flow. A study published in "Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases" in June 2002 investigated the effects of garlic extract on arterial plaque buildup in rabbits. The study's findings showed that supplementing their diet with garlic extract significantly reduced plaque buildup in arteries of rabbits that had elevated arterial plaque due to a previous high-cholesterol diet.

Vitamin E-Rich Foods

Vitamin E is linked to reduced risk of heart disease because of its blood-thinning properties. For example, vitamin E stalls the buildup of smooth muscle cells on artery walls that contribute to harmful plaque, according to Eric R. Braverman, author of "The Amazing Way to Reverse Heart Disease Naturally." In addition, vitamin E decreases the risk of blood-platelet clumping, which could lead to clot formation. Vitamin E-rich foods include eggs, almonds, walnuts, liver, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, avocados, asparagus and yams.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Foods

Omega-3 fatty acid, a polyunsaturated fat, is a good type of fat that has anticoagulant, or blood-thinning properties. Anticoagulants help prevent blood from clotting and may help lower high blood pressure, according to Michael S. Fenster, M.D., author of "Eating Well, Living Better: The Grassroots Gourmet Guide to Good Health and Great Food." Fenster also suggests that because omega-3 fatty acids help maintain proper blood flow, they may protect against conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include olive oil, canola oil, walnuts, flaxseeds and fish such as salmon, halibut, sardines, tuna, herring and mackerel.

Safety Considerations

Although they play a vital role in your body's proper blood flow, blood thinners can raise the risk of serious bleeding if you're badly injured, taking certain medications or having surgery. If you're taking blood thinners such as aspirin, warfarin or clopidogrel, talk with your doctor before supplementing your diet with vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids or garlic supplements because they may increase your risk of bleeding.

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