Foods to Avoid When Taking Heart Medications


Did you know certain medications can interact with everyday food and drink? We asked Pharmacy Manager Adam Porath how to take these important medications safely. 

One in five Americans between the ages of 40 and 75 are currently taking a statin drug to reduce their cholesterol level or to prevent atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).  Many others also take anticoagulants (blood thinners) to prevent blood clots from forming, which can increase the risk of stroke. Adam Porath, pharmacy manager with the Renown Institute for Heart and Vascular Health’s Anticoagulation Program, explains how to safely take these medications. 

What is a statin?

A statin is a drug that can lower cholesterol by helping your body absorb cholesterol or by blocking a substance your body needs to make it. The American Heart Association cites a global study reporting the benefit of statins to help reduce heart attacks and strokes. Common statins include atorvastatin (Lipitor), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor).


Which foods or drinks should be avoided while taking statin drugs?

Grapefruit juice is the only food or drink that has a direct interaction with statins. Statins do not directly interact with any food but people taking statins should moderate their intake of saturated fats to help lower their LDL cholesterol and overall risk of cardiovascular disease.

What is a blood thinning drug?

Blood thinning drugs, such as warfarin, rivaroxaban (Xarelto), apixiban (Eliquis), dabigatran (Pradaxa) and edoxaban (Savaysa), are used to prevent stroke.

Which foods or drugs should be avoided while taking blood thinning drugs?

If taking warfarin, alcohol and cranberries (including juice) should be avoided. Patients taking warfarin should be aware of foods that contain Vitamin K (green leafy vegetables) and try to maintain a consistent diet of these foods. Warfarin interacts with many over the counter and prescription medications. Patients should consult a pharmacist when starting, stopping, or changing doses of any medication when taking warfarin.
Also, patients taking any blood thinning medication should avoid over-the-counter pain relievers (i.e. aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.)

How do I know whether to take my medication with food or not?

Consulting with a pharmacist is the best resource to determine if a medication should be taken with or without food. In general, all statins and blood thinners can be taken with or without food. The only exception is Xarelto (rivaroxaban), which should be taken with the largest meal of the day.


    • Renown pharmacist Adam Porath responds: "Ginger has blood thinning properties and should generally be avoided for anyone taking a blood thinning medication such as Pradaxa. Celery and cucumber are fine."