Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a chronic condition that develops when the arteries that supply oxygen and blood to the leg muscles become narrow or blocked over time. PAD can lead to leg pain, and difficulty walking, and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke. While there are no direct cures for PAD, adopting a healthy lifestyle, medication, and dietary changes can help manage the condition. In this blog post, we will discuss some simple Nutrition Advice for managing PAD that you can try out today.

Peripheral Artery Disease Diet

1. Focus on a Heart-Healthy Diet

Healthy vegetable diet

Studies show that a heart-healthy diet can help reduce cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar levels, which can aggravate PAD. A heart-healthy diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats such as olive oil.

2. Increase Consumption of Plant-Based Foods 

Plant based foods

Plant-based diets have improved cardiovascular health while reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases such as PAD. Such a diet includes legumes, leafy greens, nuts, plant oils, and seeds. Plant-based foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, which can help reduce inflammation, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels- all of which contribute to better health management. 

3. Incorporate Brightly Colored Produce and Anti-inflammatory Foods

anti-inflammatory foods

Certain foods are potent anti-inflammatory agents that can help improve circulation, reduce inflammation and manage PAD symptoms. These include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and walnuts, tomatoes, dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach, and berries such as strawberries and blueberries. These foods are rich in antioxidants and flavonoids that are protective against oxidative stress- a critical component in PAD’s development.

4. Reduce Sodium Intake

eat less salt graphic

Excess salt intake can raise blood pressure, which can further narrow arteries and worsen PAD symptoms. Try to limit your sodium consumption to no more than 2300 milligrams per day or less than 1500 milligrams for those with high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease. You can achieve this by limiting your consumption of processed foods, using herbs and spices to flavor your meals, and avoiding adding salt to your food.

5. Stay Hydrated

elderly couple drinking water

Drinking plenty of water is essential for managing PAD symptoms. Staying hydrated helps reduce blood thickness, improve circulation, and reduce the risk of blood clots. Aim to drink at least 8-10 cups of water per day and avoid drinks with added sugar such as soda and sports drinks.

6. Increase Your Intake of Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

omega-3 fatty acid foods

Not all fats are created equal; healthy fats are essential for the body’s functions and overall well-being. The unhealthy fats found in processed foods and fast food can contribute to the development of PAD, while unsaturated fats found in fish, avocado, nuts, and seeds, can reduce inflammation, improve cholesterol levels, and promote healthy blood flow.

Omega-3 fatty acids are critical for maintaining healthy blood flow and reducing inflammation. Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel. If you’re a vegetarian, you can get your daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts. Supplementing with omega-3 capsules is another way to get all the benefits without having to change your diet drastically.

7. Limit Your Intake of Saturated Fats and Trans Fats

Dairy and Meats

A diet low in saturated and trans fats can help lower your cholesterol, a significant risk factor for PAD. Saturated fats and trans fats raise harmful cholesterol levels, and this can lead to the narrowing of blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease. That’s why it’s essential to limit your intake of these foods. Foods high in saturated fats include red meat, poultry skin, and high-fat dairy products. On the other hand, trans fats are found in processed foods, snack foods, and commercial baked goods.

8. Watch Your Carbohydrate Intake

Loaf of bread doing its thing

Carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient that provides energy to the body, but excessive carbohydrate intake can raise blood sugar levels, leading to diabetes and worsening PAD symptoms. Patients with PAD should aim to limit their carbohydrate intake, especially refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta, and sweets. They can choose whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole-grain bread, and incorporate low-carbohydrate vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, and zucchini, into their diet.

List of Nutritious Snack Ideas for People with PAD 

Yogurt, granola, and fruit cup

1. Fruits & Vegetables

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is essential for anybody, but especially for people with PAD. Fresh and crunchy fruits and veggies such as apples, carrots, berries, and broccoli, are perfect snack options to boost your health. They keep you full for long periods, provide vital nutrients like vitamins, fiber, and potassium, and work to improve blood flow.

2. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are typically high in calories but are rich in unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and other essential nutrients. Almonds, peanuts, cashews, and sunflower seeds are great snacking options that can help reduce inflammation and improve blood flow—just make sure to avoid overindulging as they can lead to weight gain.

3. Yogurt

Yogurt is excellent for people with PAD as it helps keep the digestive system healthy and provides your body with probiotics and calcium. Try opting for plain Greek or low-fat yogurt, add in fresh fruits and nuts, and have a nutrient-packed snack.

4. Whole Grains

Whole grains are heart-healthy and contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which makes them a great snack option for people with PAD. Whole grain bread, quinoa, oats, and brown rice crackers are a great way to fill your belly and provide the necessary nutrients to combat PAD.

5. Dark Chocolate

Yes, you read that correctly, Dark Chocolate. Finishing off with a sweet, but still nutrient-dense treat, dark chocolate has polyphenols which are thought to improve circulation. Just make sure to consume it in moderation, as chocolate still contains calories.

PAD machine on legs

Nutrition is an essential part of managing PAD symptoms. It can help reduce risk factors associated with the condition, improve circulation, and lead to overall better health. Incorporating heart-healthy foods, plant-based diets, brightly colored produce, anti-inflammatory foods, and reducing salt intake can go a long way in managing PAD symptoms. Remember, small changes in one’s diet can make a significant impact on managing PAD symptoms and preventing further complications.

If you believe you have PAD (Peripheral Arterial Disease) or are encountering symptoms, we advise you to consider discussing any dietary adjustments and book an appointment with us. At Tinsley Surgical, our team will guide you in identifying the optimal plan that aligns with your health requirements and objectives. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us today.