The circulatory or vascular system is made up of veins and arteries that transport blood around the body. When a person gets older, the cumulative effect of cholesterol and plaque take a toll on their blood vessels, causing them to become narrower and stiffer. This restricts blood flow, leading to vascular disease such as aneurysm, peripheral arterial disease (PAD) or hardening of the arteries due to buildup of blood clots in the vein. Poor blood flow results in cramps, pain, stroke, heart attack, and in worse case scenarios, even loss of a limb.
Given the vascular system’s important role in the body, it is important to cultivate habits that can prevent or at least slow down the progression of vascular disease. These habits include the following:
- Eating a low fat, healthy diet
- Maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol
- Not being overweight
- Keeping blood pressure at normal levels
- Avoiding a sedentary lifestyle by exercising regularly
- No smoking at all
Besides the above, researchers have found therapeutic benefits in sweet onion peel, pomegranate, and superoxide dismutase (SOD).
1) Sweet Onion Peel
Onions are widely popular around the world because of their role in cuisine. Not as popular are the anti-clotting properties of these sulfur rich compounds. Experts recommend to remove as little of the outer skin of an onion as possible to prevent. This is to minimize damage to the outer layer, which is thought to be the most nutritious component, having the highest amounts of flavonoids.
Even a minute amount of overpeeling can cause a large percentage, as much as 75 percent anthocyanins and 20 percent quercetin, to be lost as a result. Some people chop onions hurriedly in order to avoid ‘crying’, due to the release of lachrymatory factor (LF), a gas responsible for tearing up. A good habit is to refrigerate onions in order to minimize the production of LF. This way, you can take your time to chop onions and preserve as much of the outer layer as possible.
Studies have shown that pomegranate juice can prevent the hardening of arteries. Researchers have discovered that the antioxidant properties reverse damage done to blood vessels due to atherosclerosis, a term used to describe the hardening of the arteries. This shows that pomegranate juice helps with the treatment of cardiovascular disease and prevents the factors that lead up to it entirely.
The antioxidant properties of pomegranate are higher than other fruit juices including orange, cranberry, red wine, and even blueberry.
Aside from its beneficial effect on vascular health, pomegranate juice is a natural ACE inhibitor, which reduces blood pressure. A placebo controlled study in 19 patients found that as little 2 ounces or less of pomegranate juice reduced blood pressure by over 12 percent after 12 months, and 16 percent in 36 months.
3) Superoxide Dismutase
Superoxide dismutase (SOD) plays a pivotal role in the body’s defense against various pathological and physiological conditions such as diabetes, aging, and vascular diseases. SOD regulates the vascular levels of the superoxide anion O(2)(*-), making it clear that it can prevent cardiovascular diseases. The body cannot absorb SOD from fruits directly, but the consumption of fruits and vegetables rich in SOD and vitamin C can speed up the production of SOD.