7 Foods on a Deep Vein Thrombosis Prevention Diet

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
  • Colorful assortment of fruits, greens, vegetables, berries, nuts and seeds

    Many people associate deep vein thrombosis (also called DVT) with a lack of activity, such as sitting on an airplane for hours during an overseas flight. Fewer people realize the role diet plays in raising or lowering your risk. A DVT is a blood clot that typically develops in the lower leg. This clot can break apart, travel to the lungs, and cause a life-threatening event called pulmonary embolism (PE) that prevents a person from breathing. While there’s no specific deep vein thrombosis prevention diet, learn which foods to eat to reduce your risk of developing a DVT.

  • 1
    senior man drinking from glass of water

    Water is the number one item to consume to help prevent deep vein thrombosis. Whether tap water or a fancier bottled variety, water helps naturally thin out your blood and make platelets less likely to stick together and cause a clot. Drinking pure water does the trick, with no need to consume sports drinks, vitamin waters, or other beverages with added ingredients. However, if you’re following a DVT prevention diet due to heart failure, be sure to check with your doctor for guidelines on how much fluid is safe to consume every day.

  • 2
    Olive Oil
    closeup of oil pouring out of glass bottle

    Research suggests that eating virgin olive oil may reduce platelet activity, in turn reducing your risk of a dangerous clot in the leg. Olive oil is a healthy fat that contains substances called phenols that may make platelets less likely to clump. Incorporating more virgin olive oil into your diet also might improve your overall heart health, which is important for reducing DVT risk. Follow the DASH Diet recommendation to eat two to three servings of healthy fats like olive oil per day to reduce your risk of DVT.

  • 3
    Fresh Vegetables
    Fresh organic vegetables on a table

    Minimally processed vegetables should make any list of deep vein thrombosis foods. Vegetables add a healthy dose of fiber and antioxidants to your diet, which can improve your overall heart health and reduce your risk of developing a DVT. Plain fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables all pack a nutritional punch. Avoid vegetables packaged in sauce or covered with cheese. Drained and rinsed canned beans offer great dietary value in DVT prevention and are affordable to eat regularly.

  • 4
    Fresh Fruits
    Close-up of fresh fruits. studio shot

    Consuming a variety of fresh fruits aids heart health, adds fiber to your diet, and can help prevent DVT. In fact, one study found that people who consumed five combined servings of fruits and vegetables per day cut their risk of DVT in half, compared to those who ate fewer than three servings per day. Whole fruits like apples, oranges, pears, and grapes make excellent snack foods. If you take medications for any reason, use caution when incorporating grapefruit into your diet, as it can affect how your medications work. Ask your pharmacist for guidance.

  • 5
    Leafy Greens
    Shopping for lettuce

    Leafy greens, like collards, used to be relegated to the “deep vein thrombosis restrictions” list, especially for those who take the anticoagulant (“blood thinner”) medication warfarin (brand name Coumadin). Leafy greens contain high concentrations of Vitamin K, which promote blood clotting. Today, however, even people who take anticoagulants often are told to consume a steady volume of leafy greens as part of a heart-healthy diet. Leafy greens contain valuable micronutrients to aid in overall heart health. If you take an anticoagulant medication, ask your doctor for guidelines on eating leafy greens.

  • 6
    Lean Proteins
    Grilled salmon with vegetables

    People at risk for a DVT should increase their consumption of fish and poultry while decreasing their intake of fattier meats like beef and pork. Eating fattier meats can cause high cholesterol, which increases your risk of DVT. Eating several servings per day of lean proteins promotes better heart health, which is important for preventing DVT. Heart failure and being overweight represent two major risk factors for deep vein thrombosis, so following a heart-healthy eating plan like the DASH Diet can help you improve your cardiovascular health and possibly prevent a DVT.

  • 7
    Not Processed Foods
    Directly Above Shot Of Potato Chips In Plate On Table

    High on the list of foods anyone at risk of DVT should avoid? Processed foods of all types, including lunch meats, snack foods, and fast food. These products all generally contain high levels of fat and salt, which are both bad for your heart health. Eating processed foods increases your chance of developing cholesterol plaques in your blood vessels, and these plaques can promote the formation of blood clots. Replace unhealthy processed foods in your diet with fresh, whole vegetables, fruits, and grains to reduce your risk of DVT.

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  1. Deep Vein Thrombosis. U.S. Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/deepveinthrombosis.html
  2. Venous Thromboembolism. U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/venous-thromboembolism
  3. Warfarin. U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682277.html#special-dietary
  4. Deep Venous Thrombosis. PCRM’s Nutrition Guide for Clinicians. https://nutritionguide.pcrm.org/nutritionguide/view/Nutrition_Guide_for_Clinicians/1342012/all/Deep_Venous_Thrombosis
  5. Eating olive oil once a week may be associated with making blood less likely to clot in obese people. American Heart Association. https://newsroom.heart.org/news/eating-olive-oil-once-a-week-may-be-associated-with-making-blood-less-likely-to-clot-in-obese-people
  6. Ruano J, Lopez-Miranda J, et al. Intake of phenol-rich virgin olive oil improves the postprandial prothrombotic profile in hypercholesterolemic patients. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 86, Issue 2, August 2007, Pages 341–346.
  7. DASH Eating Plan. U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/dash-eating-plan
Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Apr 16
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