A high-fiber diet is the most important component of the treatment and prevention of varicose veins. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains promotes peristalsis, and the many fiber components attract water to form gelatinous masses that keep the feces soft, bulky, and easy to pass. Individuals who consume a low-fiber diet tend to strain more during bowel movements, since their smaller and harder stools are more difficult to pass. This straining increases the pressure in the abdomen, which obstructs the flow of blood up the legs and out of the rectum. The increased pressure may, over time, significantly weaken the vein walls, leading to the formation of varicose veins or hemorrhoids.
Flavonoid-rich foods, such as bilberries, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, and hawthorn berries, are beneficial in the prevention and treatment of varicose veins. These berries are very rich sources of proanthocyanidins and anthocyanidins, the bioflavonoids that give the berries their blue-red color and also improve the integrity of support structures of the veins and the entire vascular system. In addition, even drinking buckwheat tea, a rich source of flavonoids, has been shown to be quite effective in the prevention and treatment of varicose veins.
Individuals with varicose veins have a decreased ability to break down fibrin. When fibrin is deposited in the tissue near the varicose veins, the skin becomes hard and "lumpy" due to the presence of the fibrin and fat. In addition, a decreased ability to break down fibrin increases the risk of thrombus formation, which may result in thrombophlebitis, a heart attack, pulmonary embolism, or stroke. Foods that increase the fibrinolytic activity of the blood are therefore indicated. Cayenne pepper, garlic, onion, and ginger all increase fibrin breakdown. Liberal consumption of these spices in foods is recommended for individuals with varicose veins and other disorders of the cardiovascular system. In addition, bromelain, from fresh pineapple, promotes the breakdown of fibrin.