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12 foods to not be eaten with arrhythmia: Doctor's warnings

12 foods to not be eaten with arrhythmia: Doctor's warnings Illustrative photo (Freepik)
Author: Maria Kholina

Many older people suffer from atrial fibrillation, a form of arrhythmia, and incorrect nutrition can worsen the condition. Moreover, even such beneficial products as leafy greens or grapefruit can have a negative impact on health, as they interfere with the absorption of medications, according to dietitian Oleh Shvets.

Which products should not be eaten with atrial fibrillation

"Atrial fibrillation is a fairly common disorder of the normal heart rhythm, characterized by an increase in the frequency of contractions of individual groups of muscle fibers. The peculiarity of this form of arrhythmia is that the atria contract more often than the ventricles, resembling a flutter effect," explains the doctor.

In atrial fibrillation and irregular heart rhythm, it is very necessary to monitor the diet.

"Here are some products that are better to limit or exclude from the diet," advises the dietitian.


Excess salt contributes to an increase in blood pressure, increasing the likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation. This can also complicate the treatment of symptoms, increasing the risks of stroke and other complications.

"The most dangerous are processed products. Many of them contain a lot of salt. These include bread, processed meat products, hard cheese, canned goods, ready-made sauces. Try to choose products with low salt content and cook food with its minimal use," advises Shvets.

Quick-cooking cereals

These products usually contain a lot of sugar, so it's worth reading their composition on the packaging first.

"These products can have up to 11 grams of sugar per serving. By consuming a lot of sugar, you can gain weight and have higher blood pressure, which triggers atrial fibrillation attacks and its constant complications. Among other non-obvious products that contain a lot of sugar are granola bars and ketchup," explains the dietitian.


Scientific data on caffeine as a trigger for atrial fibrillation is ambiguous. Old studies indicate a connection, new ones - not.

"In any case, it is worth being careful with coffee. A large amount of caffeine can contribute to an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, provoking atrial fibrillation. Drink no more than 2-3 cups of coffee per day. Or switch to decaffeinated drinks," advises the doctor.

Leafy greens

People with arrhythmia are often prescribed blood-thinning medications to prevent the formation of clots leading to stroke. But the action of these drugs can be disrupted by the high content of vitamin K, which is abundant in lettuce, spinach, and cabbage.

"It is worth checking with your doctor whether leafy greens affect the effectiveness of the prescribed medications. If so, the doctor may adjust the dose or change the medications," says Shvets.


These citrus fruits are not recommended for consumption when taking medications to control heart rhythm. Grapefruits and their juice contain chemicals that can alter the absorption of some drugs, increasing the likelihood of side effects.

It is advisable to consult with a doctor about the safety of consuming grapefruit when new medications are prescribed.

Red meat

"Saturated fats in beef, lamb, and pork increase levels of harmful cholesterol in the blood. High levels of bad cholesterol can lead to atherosclerotic damage to the vessels and atrial fibrillation, as well as increase the risk of stroke. Choose lean cuts of beef, pork loin or tenderloin," advises the doctor.


Dairy products made from whole or 2% milk, cream, and cheese are also sources of saturated fat. A better choice for the heart is skim milk or low-fat dairy products. Use healthy oils such as olive and flaxseed for cooking.

"Trans fats are even worse. They are found in processed products, most often in sweets and pastries, under the name partially hydrogenated vegetable fat. Seeing this among the ingredients, it is wise to refrain from buying such a product," says the dietitian.

Fried foods

Another source of trans fats can be donuts, potato chips, and French fries. Unlike other fats, trans fats deliver a double blow: they increase bad cholesterol and lower the level of good cholesterol.

Energy drinks

These drinks contain a lot of caffeine, and some brands add other ingredients "for vigor", the combination of which can be even worse for the heart than caffeine alone.

"In a small study, energy drinks caused more changes in heart rhythm than other drinks with the same amount of caffeine. Another study linked the consumption of energy drinks with episodes of atrial fibrillation," says Shvets.

Sea salt

This salt has the same amount of sodium as regular salt. One teaspoon of any salt contains about 2300 mg of sodium - the recommended daily limit.

The doctor advises replacing salt with various spices and herbs to season food. For example, add ginger to chicken and paprika to soups.

White rice

"Purified grains lack nutrients and plant food fibers necessary for the normal functioning of many organs, including the heart. Consuming fiber reduces the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes - conditions associated with atrial fibrillation," warns the dietitian.

He recommends choosing whole-grain brown or wild rice. Whole-grain products are more filling and reduce the likelihood of stroke.

Iced drinks

Iced drinks that can help you cool down on a hot day can also trigger atrial fibrillation attacks.

"The results of a recently published study showed a possible connection between consuming a cold drink, cooling the brain, and irregular heartbeat. If palpitations occur after consuming cold food or drinks, consult a doctor for recommendations," says the expert.


Overeating harms heart health. Even if you're overindulging in healthy food, it still leads to weight gain, increasing the risks of atrial fibrillation.

"It also increases the likelihood of atrial fibrillation recurrence after certain treatments, such as ablation. In the presence of obesity, when the body mass index is 30 kg/m2 or more, try to lose at least 10% of body weight," says Shvets.

The dietitian advises controlling portions and reducing the amount of food consumed. It is worth practicing intermittent fasting with food restriction throughout the day. Also, try to be physically active and get eight hours of sleep per day.

This material is for informational purposes only and should not be used for medical diagnosis or self-treatment. Our goal is to provide readers with accurate information about symptoms, causes, and methods of detecting diseases. RBС-Ukraine is not responsible for any diagnoses that readers may make based on materials from the resource. We do not recommend self-treatment and advise consulting a doctor in case of any health concerns.