Patient Handout on Improving Circulatory System Function with Recipes

 The Circulatory System:

  • This system is made up of your heart and your blood vessels, which together carry blood with oxygen and nutrients to and from areas of your body.
    • Blood with oxygen and nutrients is pumped to the body from the heart.
    • Then, blood that’s oxygen and nutrients have been used by the body is pumped back to the heart where the cycle starts over.

Problems with your circulation occurs somewhere within this cycle. Some causes of poor circulation are:

  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Peripheral Artery Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Kidney Disease
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Drinking Too Much Caffeine
  • Drinking Alcohol

Signs and Symptoms of Poor Circulation:

  • Swelling of hands
  • Swelling of Feet
  • Ulcers on the Legs
  • Numbness/ burning/ pain in the hands/ arms or feet/ legs
  • Weakness in the hands/ arms or feet/ legs
  • Changes in skin color
  • Weak or absent pulses
  • Cool skin
  • Poor healing in the hands/ arms or feet/ legs
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Varicose Veins

Ways to Improve Circulation in Your Body:

  • Exercise
  • Quit Smoking
  • Drink Alcohol/ Caffeine in moderation
  • Exercise
  • Massage Therapy
  • Eat a balanced/ healthy diet:
    • a diet that includes low-fat protein such as lean meat, poultry and fish, along with fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Broil, bake, or roast your foods instead of frying when possible
  • Things to eat or drink that help improve blood circulation:
    • Calendula
    • Tamari Bancha Tea
    • Ume-Sho-Bancha with ginger
    • Ginkgo Biloba
    • Onion
    • Cayenne
    • Ginger
    • Garlic


Alspaugh, L. (2011). Warning Signs of Poor Circulation. Livestrong: The Limitless Potential of You. Retrieved from:

Chew, C. (2010). How to Improve Blood Circulation in the Body. Livestrong: The Limitless Potential of You. Retrieved from:

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2011). Video: Heart and circulatory system—How they work. Heart Disease. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Retrieved from:

Otto, E. (2010). What Are the Symptoms of Poor Circulation in the Legs. Livestrong: The Limitless Potential of You. Retrieved from:

Pederson, K. (2012). Ways to Improve Blood Circulation. HealthGuidance: Health Guidance for Better Health. Retrieved from:

Ginger-marinated grilled portobello mushrooms (Serves 4)

  • Ingredients
    • 4 large portobello mushrooms
      1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
      1/2 cup pineapple juice
      2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger, peeled
      1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • Directions
    • Clean mushrooms with a damp cloth and remove their stems. Place in a glass dish, stemless (gill) side up.
    • To prepare the marinade, in a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, pineapple juice and ginger. Drizzle the marinade over the mushrooms. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, turning mushrooms once.
    • Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill or broiler. Away from the heat source, lightly coat the grill rack or broiler pan with cooking spray. Position the cooking rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source.
    • Grill or broil the mushrooms on medium heat, turning often, until tender, about 5 minutes on each side. Baste with marinade to keep from drying out. Using tongs, transfer the mushrooms to a serving platter. Garnish with basil and serve immediately.
  • Nutritional analysis per serving (Serving size: 1 mushroom)
Calories 69 Sodium 10 mg
Total fat 0 g Total carbohydrate 14 g
Saturated fat 0 g Dietary fiber 2 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g Protein 4 g
Cholesterol 0 mg


Spinach Berry Salad (Serves 4)

  • Ingredients

4 packed cups torn fresh spinach
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1 cup fresh, or frozen, blueberries
1 small sweet onion, sliced
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Salad Dressing
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, or cider vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon curry powder (can be omitted)
1/8 teaspoon pepper

  • Directions

In a large salad bowl, toss together spinach, strawberries, blueberries, onion and pecans. In a jar with a tightfitting lid, combine dressing ingredients. Shake well. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

  • Nutritional analysis per serving
Calories 158 Sodium 197 mg
Total fat 5 g Total carbohydrate 25 g
Saturated fat 0.5 g Dietary fiber 4 g
Monounsaturated fat 3 g Protein 4 g
Cholesterol 0 mg


Blackberry iced tea with cinnamon and ginger (Serves 6)

  • Ingredients

6 cups water
12 blackberry herbal tea bags
8 3-inch-long cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 cup unsweetened cranberry juice
Sugar substitute, to taste
Ice cubes, crushed

  • Directions

In a large saucepan, heat water to just before boiling. Add tea bags, 2 of the cinnamon sticks and ginger. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for about 15 minutes.

Pass the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, placed over a pitcher. Add the juice and sweetener to taste. Refrigerate until very cold.

To serve, fill 6 tall, chilled glasses with crushed ice. Pour the tea over the top of the ice and garnish with cinnamon sticks. Serve immediately.

  • Nutritional analysis per serving
Calories 30 Sodium 0 mg
Total fat 0 g Total carbohydrate 7 g
Saturated fat 0 g Dietary fiber 0 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g Protein 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Strawberry Shortcake (Serves 6)

·      Ingredients

    • 1 3/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour, sifted
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons low-sodium baking powder
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1/4 cup trans-free margarine (chilled)
    • 3/4 cup fat-free milk (chilled)

For the topping

    • 6 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
    • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) plain fat-free yogurt

·      Directions

In a large mixing bowl, re-sift the flours, baking powder and sugar together. Using a fork, cut the chilled margarine into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the chilled milk and stir just until a moist dough forms.

Turn the dough onto a generously floured work surface and, with floured hands, knead gently 6 to 8 times until the dough is smooth and manageable. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle 1/4-inch thick. Cut into 8 squares. Place the squares onto the prepared baking pan and bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes.

Transfer the biscuits onto individual plates. Top each with 1 cup strawberries and 1 1/2 tablespoons yogurt. Serve immediately.

·      Nutritional analysis per serving (1 shortcake)

Calories 225 Sodium 87 mg
Total fat 5 g Total carbohydrate 38 g
Saturated fat 1 g Dietary fiber 6 g
Monounsaturated fat 1.5 g Protein 7 g
Cholesterol 2 mg

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