8 Healthy Foods You Don’t Mix with Medication

We all know there is a lot of unhealthy food out there that we need to stay away from, but for those of us on certain prescription medications, there are some food you may be surprised to find that you shouldn’t be eating, foods that under normal circumstances are considered perfectly healthy. Let’s take a look at the top 8 foods you need to avoid while taking certain medications.

1.) Grapefruit

A wonderful morning drink and refreshing in the summer, grapefruit and grapefruit juice must be avoided by anyone taking cholesterol drugs, such as Lipitor (atorvastatin), Mevacor (lovastatin) and Zocor (simvastatin). Other drugs that react with grapefruit juice include Plendil, Sular, and Procardia. There is a component of grapefruit juice that can increase the amount of medication absorbed by the body, which can increase the chances of side effects, such as leg pain.

2.) Greens

There are a number of greens, such as kale, broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage, that can affect blood thinning medication such as Coumadin (warfarin). This is due to the fact that these foods contain high amounts of vitamin K, which is a natural clotting agent that can counter the anti-clotting effects of the drug. Eating a balanced diet that includes greens is still important, but you should speak to your doctor before making significant changes to the amount of greens you eat.

3.) Calcium-Rich Foods

Milk is a healthy way to get calcium and nutrients, as are other dairy products and foods such as almonds. However, too much calcium can have a negative effect on tetracycline antibiotics, such as Achromycin (tetracycline). The calcium can prevent the body from absorbing the medication.

4.) Bananas

Yup, good old bananas that we love cut up in our cereal, made into banana splits, or smeared with peanut butter can be harmful when eaten while taking certain drugs. ACE inhibitors that are used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease are one such medication. These include Capoten (captopril), Vasotec (enalapril), Prinivil (lisinopril), Lotensin (benazepril) and Zestril (lisinopril). Bananas also should not be eaten while taking some diuretics, such as Dyrenium (triamterene). These medication raise the amount of potassium in the blood stream, a mineral bananas have in large quantities. Too much potassium in the body can lead to an irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations.

5.) Licorice

Licorice (the real kind) should not be eaten while taking Lanoxin (digoxin), which is a medication used to treat abnormal heart rhythms and heart failure. If licorice is taken with the drug it can cause an irregular heartbeat and even death. Licorice can also cause certain medications to be less effective, including birth control pills, blood pressure medications, blood thinners, and pain relief medication. Always check for licorice extract on ingredients labels.

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6.) Walnuts

Walnuts and other high-fiber foods, such as cottonseed meal and soybean flour, can cause thyroid medications, such as Levothroid (levothyroxine), Synthroid (levothyroxine), and Levoxyl (levothyroxine), to be less effective because these foods prevent the body’s abruption of these medications. Eating these types of foods might require you to take a higher dosage of medication. Bedtime may be the best time to take these types of medication.

7.) Aged Cheese

Aged cheeses, such as blue cheese and parmesan cheese, as well as wine and soy, are not safe to eat while you are taking MAO inhibitors, such as Nardil (phenelzine). Eating these foods while taking Nardil can cause you to have a rise in blood pressure.

8.) Salami

There goes your good sandwich you say, but if you are taking certain drugs, such as Flagyl (metronidazole) (and Zyvox (linezolid), to treat bacterial infections, then you need to avoid salami. As with the aged cheese, if you take these medications and eat this food, your blood pressure could jump to dangerous levels. The same goes for any other foods that contain Tyramine, which are foods that are aged or fermented, as well as alcohol, chocolate, and bananas.


As you can see, certain foods and medications do not mix well. It is important to check with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure you know whether there are any foods or vitamin supplements you should avoid. Doing this might not only improve your health; it could save your life.

About Cary Byrd

eDrugSearch founder, Cary Byrd, has been called an “e-health innovator” by MarketIntellNow, interviewed by top pharmaceutical industry journalists, invited to Matthew Holt’s Health 2.0 Conference and a Consumer Report's health summit, and highlighted on numerous health blogs.

8 Healthy Foods You Don't Mix with Medication

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