So, your doctor has prescribed you atorvastatin.
You naughty, civilian. That means that your cholesterol levels aren’t quite where they should be, that you may be on a diet and that there are certain foods which interact in, let’s say, unsavory ways with your new medicine.
Put your mind at rest.
Anywhere from 11 million to 30 million people take statins to decrease unhealthy cholesterol in their bodies. You’re not alone, and we’re here to give you the tips you need.
So which foods should you avoid so that you can steer clear of spontaneous combustion? (We’re kidding; no foods will make you explode because of a bad interaction . . . that we know of.)
Read more to find out.
What Is Atorvastatin Used For?
Besides being a mouthful to say, atorvastatin is a cholesterol drug that belongs to a group of medications known as statins. It is used to lower the “bad” levels of cholesterol and increase the “good” cholesterol levels in users.
On the shelf, it may be marketed as Lipitor or atorvastatin calcium.
How Does It Work?
There are two kinds of cholesterol in your body: low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL).
LDL is the “bad” cholesterol. Imagine a bunch of evil little devils swarming about your body trying to build an army.
Yes, most of them are cackling while they work.
They find and group with each other to form blocks within your arteries, which increases the likelihood of heart disease.
HDL is beneficial, which is why it is referred to as “good” cholesterol. Think of HDL as little cherubs that float around your body on puffy white clouds. HDL keeps the LDL devils in check by removing them from your blood and arteries.
They’re kind of like nice bullies.
Atorvastatin works by slowing an enzyme’s production of LDL, reducing the risk of heart failure or other severe consequences of LDL buildup that all of us would rather not experience.
So it knocks those little devils on their equally little behinds.
What Foods to Avoid
It’s important to know what foods to avoid while taking atorvastatin, as consuming certain victuals or beverages can interact with the medicine in potentially harmful ways.
Keep those daily beers and glasses of wine to a minimum, “as it may increase the risk of liver problems when combined with atorvastatin.”
Alcohol can also increase the chances of side effects in general.
If you consume more than two alcoholic beverages per day, consult your physician to determine how much you should reduce your alcohol consumption.
The fancy cross-breed between this baby, and wild oranges created the tangy grapefruit we have today.
Few studies have been conducted about pomelos’ effect when interacting with cholesterol medication, but Dr. Thomas Lee, the Editor in Chief of Harvard Heart Letter, says it appears as though pomelos (and pomelos juice) act in the same manner as grapefruits.
Pomelos are usually eaten raw but can be used in marmalade, in fruit salads and as enhancements for chili and shellfish.
Be sure to cross this one off your list.
Tangelos are a hybrid mix between tangerines and grapefruit. Obviously, you would think, these are off the table.
However, researchers are still unsure if tangelos could be as dangerous as their parents to users.
While tangelos do not contain the chemical responsible for the enzyme depletion in grapefruits, many doctors are satisfied that they can be eaten with cholesterol-lowering medication.
Others, however, warn to stay away from them until results are clear, as they could be the devil children of grapefruits for anyone taking this medicine.
After all, it’s best to play it safe, my friends.
Grapefruit and grapefruit juice should be avoided while on this medicine.
Consuming large amounts of grapefruit juice can have severe consequences, including muscle disorders. The fruit “Hulks out” your medicine.
In fact, The New York Times cites one instance where a patient who had struggled with high blood pressure suddenly had perfect levels as a result of drinking grapefruit juice with his pills. Shortly after, those levels plummeted to a dangerously low point, and he was forced to seek a new medicine.
It’s that powerful. It is a Hulk you don’t want to mess with.
Unlike many other drugs, this particular medicine does not travel directly from the intestine to the bloodstream. Instead, it is broken down by an enzyme in the intestinal wall.
Grapefruit juice removes parts of this enzyme, which permits more of the drug to enter into your system.
Medline Plus recommends consuming no more than 1.2 liters of grapefruit juice a day, but other doctors recommend avoiding grapefruit entirely while on this medication.
This particular type of orange contains the same culprit as grapefruit: furanocoumarin.
Say that ten times.
This is the substance responsible for the cholesterol medication’s enhanced effects and increased amounts in the blood.
Luckily, Seville oranges are not typically used for orange juice, so anyone using atorvastatin calcium tablets or the like should be safe with their usual morning beverage.
Because of their bitter flavor, Seville oranges are a popular cooking ingredient. They are used in marmalade, duck l’orange, marinades, stir-fries, and stews.
If you are at a restaurant, be sure to ask if these oranges are used for any entree you are worried about. Pay close attention to plates with sauces, marinades, and kinds of butter that provide a citrusy taste.
Foods High in Fat and Cholesterol
While you won’t experience the negative effects the foods and beverages above can instill (or spontaneous combustion, we promise), it is necessary to avoid foods that are high in fat and cholesterol.
Atorvastatin helps your body produce less cholesterol. But if you are consistently eating greasy hamburgers or heaping piles of bacon, the medicine can’t do its job effectively.
Many foods increase cholesterol:
- Salty foods
- Full-fat dairy products
- Packaged snacks and meats
It stinks, we know. But whenever you’re eyeballing that cookie or something equally delicious-looking, just remember: reducing your cholesterol can literally save your life.
Purchase Your Cholesterol Medication Today!
Some of the effects of the foods and beverages discussed are still being explored, but we like to take a “better safe than sorry” approach when it comes to your life. We hope you do, too.
Having healthy levels of cholesterol means being healthier and living longer.
- You will have less chance of heart disease or other coronary issues.
- If you have type 2 diabetes, lowering bad cholesterol levels may prevent or reverse the hardening of arteries.
- You may lose weight.
If you have high cholesterol, talk to your doctor to see if atorvastatin is right for you. While you’re at it, don’t forget to compare costs and find the best price on the market!
After all, who doesn’t want that?