Warfarin Diet: 23+ Foods To Avoid When Taking Warfarin or Blood Thinners like Coumadin or Jantoven

Leafy Green To Avoid On A Warfarin Diet

People who use blood thinners have to constantly watch their Vitamin K intake due to how this vitamin interacts with blood thinning medication. This nutritional obstacle becomes even more difficult because Vitamin K levels are not required to appear on food labels.

How does Vitamin K work in the body?

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that comes in two forms. The main type is called phylloquinone, found in green leafy vegetables like collard greens, kale, and spinach. The other type, menaquinones, are found in some animal foods and fermented foods. Vitamin K is important as it helps to make various proteins that are needed for blood clotting and the building of bones throughout the body. Prothrombin is a vitamin K-dependent protein directly involved with blood clotting. Osteocalcin is another protein that requires vitamin K to produce healthy bone tissue (Harvard.edu).

Vitamin K

Warfarin works by disrupting the role of vitamin K in a complex series of molecular events that cause blood clotting. But vitamin K is a nutrient essential for heart and bone health (Mayo Clinic). You and your doctor should keep an eye out for how much vitamin K you are and have consumed. It’s all about consistency about how much vitamin K you should consume daily. The “Warfarin Diet” or the “Coumadin diet” is all about taking a consistent amount of Vitamin K. Medical professionals recommend that adult men should take 120 micrograms (mcg) while adult women should intake 90 mcg of Vitamin K. Foods that contain more than 60 mcg per serving should be avoided in large portions.

23+ Foods To Avoid When Taking Warfarin or Blood Thinners like Coumadin or Jantoven?

There are so many foods to avoid when on blood thinners. Specifically, these foods can inhibit the effectiveness of the drugs, putting the patients at risk for bleeding and other complications.

Both men and women should avoid large amounts of the below foods (Mayo Clinic):

  • Amaranth leaves – These leaves are a good source of calcium with 275 MG, but carry too much vitamin K, 66% of your daily intake.
  • Asparagus – Is a healthy vegetable that’s also a good source of fiber. Talk to any diet or nutrition coach and they might encourage you to eat asparagus as part of your fitness regime. Unfortunately, Asparagus has 55% of the recommended daily dose of Vitamin K.
  • Broccoli – Is a great source of vitamin C (35mg) but contains too much vitamin K when you are taking Warfarin, around 64% of a person’s daily Vitamin K dose.
  • Brussels sprouts – These powerful foods are high in vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps promote iron absorption and is involved in tissue repair and immune function.  But it has 137% of your daily vitamin K requirement, which is too much for people who are taking blood thinners.
  • Coleslaw – Most traditional creamy coleslaw dressing is made with high fat ingredients like mayo and has sugar added too, which in small doses can be good for you. However, coleslaw has over 100% + of your daily intake of Vitamin K, which is too much.
  • Canned beef stroganoff soup – Overall canned beef stroganoff soup has your daily intake of Folate, but over 206% over your daily intake of Vitamin K.  This food should be avoided if you are taking blood thinners.
  • Endive – This vegetable is low in calories and may enhance digestion but it has too much Vitamin K over 100% of your daily intake.
  • Garden cress – With a little bit of fiber and a good amount of Vitamin C, this vegetable is healthy for you. Unfortunately, this vegetable has 106% of your Vitamin K intake.
  • Kale – This vegetable offers benefits for the entire body. But, for people who are taking blood thinners, it shouldn’t be consumed as it has 4 times the amount of Vitamin K for your daily amount.
  • Kiwifruit – Kiwi provides small amounts of Vitamin A, Iron and Folate. But, it contains too much Vitamin K, around 22% of the daily recommended intake.
  • Lettuce – with just a small amount of fat and a decent amount of fiber, lettuce provides many health benefits. For people who are on Warfarin, they should not consume lettuce. It contains 84% of a person’s daily intake of Vitamin K.
  • Mustard greens – These tasty veggies are considered a very low-calorie food that provides your body with energy primarily in the form of complex carbohydrates. But it has 46% of a person’s daily intake of Vitamin K. Too much for someone who is taking blood thinners.
  • Soybeans – These beans are a great source of protein but have too much Vitamin K, over 35% of a person’s daily intake.
  • Swiss chard – Is a leafy green vegetable that has a high source of iron but contains too much Vitamin K for someone who is taking blood thinners – over 100% of a person’s daily intake.
  • Tuna fish in oil – Depending on how it’s prepared, it can contain over 22% of a person’s daily intake of Vitamin K.
  • Vegetable drinks – Depending on which vegetables are included in these drinks will determine how much Vitamin K will be consumed. Most of the drinks that are prepared have too much Vitamin K for someone who is taking Warfarin.
  • Spinach – Is a great food source for iron, but it contains too much vitamin K. It has over 400% more than a person’s daily intake.
  • Collards – Collard greens are rich in antioxidants that neutralize free radicals and may help reduce your risk of developing certain cancers, but they contain 7x times the amount of Vitamin K a person should consume daily. Too much for someone on blood thinners.
  • Turnip greens – These vegetables are over 100% of a person’s daily Vitamin K intake.
  • Beet greens – beet greens as a very good source of iron, providing 15% of the daily recommended amount in a 1-cup serving. These greens contain 3X times the amount of Vitamin K. Too much for people who are taking blood thinners.
  • Dandelion greens – Because the potassium in dandelions may impact blood flow and clotting, it’s best to avoid anything with dandelions.

A stable diet, containing around 60 to 80 mcg of vitamin K is desirable. Below are the foods that have small amounts of Vitamin K. And can be safe if eaten under the supervision of a doctor (all of these foods have small amounts of Vitamin K, Fruits and Veggies):

  • Egg yolk
  • Canola oils – 10 micrograms
  • Cucumber – 9 micrograms
  • Some nuts – (except pine nuts and cashews)
  • Turnips (raw or cooked) — 0.1 micrograms
  • Beets (raw or cooked) — 0.3 micrograms
  • Sweet Corn (raw or cooked) — 0.5 micrograms
  • Onion (raw or cooked) — 1 microgram per 1 medium onion
  • Rutabagas (raw or cooked) — 0.5 micrograms
  • Pumpkin (cooked) — 2 micrograms
  • Winter squash(cooked) — 2 micrograms
  • Summer squash (cooked) — 3 micrograms
  • Eggplants (cooked) — 3 micrograms
  • Bamboo shoots (raw or canned) — 0 micrograms
  • Mushrooms (raw or cooked) — 0 micrograms
  • Tomatoes (cooked) — 7 micrograms
  • Tomatoes (raw) — 14 micrograms
  • Cucumbers (raw) — 17 micrograms
  • Sweet potatoes – 5 micrograms

What can happen if I eat too much of the foods (Vitamin K) that interact with Warfarin?

Patients that consume an inconsistent amount of Vitamin K and/or foods that contain large amounts of Vitamin K can put themselves at risk of developing a blood clot and further side effects. Here are some of the serious ailments that patients should keep an eye out for and call 911 if these symptoms arise:

  • Pain, swelling, and redness in your legs
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble moving your limbs
  • Trouble seeing, walking, or speaking
  • Severe headache (Heart.org)

Foods You Can Eat on a Warfarin Diet

On the positive side, patients are able to consume many foods considered safe if they are taking any anticoagulants. These are the foods that are considered safe to consume:

  • Meat, fish, and eggs
  • Milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Grains, bread, rice, and pasta
  • Fruits of any type
  • Red, orange, and yellow vegetables
  • Most purple and white vegetables

The safety around anticoagulants?

Patients should take many precautions. Specifically, knowing that taking an oral anticoagulant has a higher propensity to cause adverse reactions putting the patient in the hospital for bleeding-related illnesses (NCBI). Furthermore, anticoagulants can also react negatively to other medications specifically, anti-platelet drugs, in the presence of dosing errors, and when there is improper monitoring. Patients should communicate with their doctor about their diet, current medications, and any follow-up issues that are occurring.

What is the difference between a blood thinner and an anticoagulant?

They are considered the same thing. Though medical professionals usually refer to these specific drugs as anticoagulants (“blood thinners” don’t actually thin blood).

How does the blood circulatory system work?

The blood circulatory system, also known as the cardiovascular system, delivers nutrients and oxygen to all cells in the body. It is comprised of the heart and the blood vessels, all running through the entire body. Briefly, the arteries carry blood away from the heart; the veins carry it back to the heart (NCBI). This helpful system carries oxygen, nutrients, and hormones to cells, and removes waste products, like carbon dioxide in the body (Kids Health).

What makes blood clots so dangerous?

When a blood clot, or thrombus, travels to critical parts of the body like the heart or lungs, it can turn into a very serious health concern. Briefly, blood clots become dangerous when they get stuck in a passageway and turn into what is called an embolus. Once this embolus forms, the blood can no longer pass through the veins and reach organs and the person is at high risk for a heart attack or stroke (Heart.org).

What are blood thinners?

Also known as anticoagulants. These are medicines that help prevent blood clots. These drugs work by interrupting the process involved in the formation of blood clots.  And this interruption can significantly decrease your risk of blood clotting, but will not decrease the risk to zero. Additionally, we usually hear of anticoagulants as “blood-thinning” medicines, although they don’t actually make the blood thinner (NHC).

What are common (name brand) blood thinners?

There are many helpful blood thinners that medical professionals might prescribe. Some of the most common are:

  • apixaban (Eliquis)
  • dabigatran (Pradaxa)
  • edoxaban (Lixiana)
  • rivaroxaban (Xarelto)
  • warfarin (Coumadin)

The generic names are listed first, followed by the name brands of these blood thinners (HeartandStroke.CA).

What is Warfarin?

Warfarin is a blood thinner medication that is usually prescribed to people who have had or are at risk for blood clots. Because this medication prevents blood clots, it can also put you at risk for bleeding.

Who needs to take warfarin?

There are a couple of reasons why someone would get prescribed Warfarin and that is because that person has a mechanical artificial heart valve that is more likely to form blood clots and/or a blood clot in your lungs (Mayo Clinic).

What is Jantoven?

This is another blood thinner medication. This drug helps prevent blood clots from forming in a patient’s body. Jantoven is used to treat or prevent blood clots in veins or arteries. And can reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack, or other serious conditions (Drugs.com).

What can you not drink while taking blood thinners?

Alcohol can create side effects when combined with an anticoagulant. Medical professionals suggest avoiding acute alcohol intoxication. Coffee consumption can also alter the effects of blood thinners; as caffeine can inhibit the metabolism of warfarin (NCBI). Also, some juices like cranberry juice, green tea and grapefruit juice can deactivate an enzyme that normally breaks down warfarin, causing an unusual amount of bleeding (NY TImes).

Can drinking water thin your blood?

It is recommended to drink water throughout the day to keep your blood thin, starting with a glass or two in the morning. This lessens the risk of stroke and the thickening of the blood (dehydration).

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