The Healthy Food That Can Make Blood Thinners Less Effective

Every year, between 2 and 3 million people take a prescription blood thinner. These medications are typically used to prevent heart attacks or strokes, but can also be used for other blood vessel diseases (via WebMD). Like any other prescription drug, blood thinners come with directions for use and drug interaction warnings. But most people don't expect to see nutritious foods on the list of things to avoid when taking a medication. In the case of blood thinners, it's important to steer clear of certain foods, especially one group of healthy foods in particular.

Blood thinners work in different ways to keep your blood from clotting and blocking blood flow to your heart (via Healthline). They can also slow the growth of a clot that has already formed. Normally, the body's ability to make blood clots protects us from uncontrolled bleeding. But when someone's blood creates too many clots, the risks can outweigh the benefits. Drugs like warfarin, enoxaparin, and heparin all increase the amount of time it takes for blood clots to form. Other medicines, like aspirin, keep blood cells from sticking together to form a clot in the first place.

Pay close attention to your diet if you're on this blood thinner

If your doctor prescribes you the blood thinner warfarin, they'll most likely warn you about the possible dangers of eating too many foods with high levels of vitamin K. Vitamin K can be found in leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, lettuce, and broccoli, and it allows the liver to produce proteins known as blood clotting factors (via Medline Plus). Since warfarin works to stop clotting, too much vitamin K may interfere with the drug's ability to work properly.

It's important to get the proper amount of vitamin K in your diet, since it's essential for heart and bone health (via Mayo Clinic). Because of this, your doctor may recommend keeping your vitamin K consumption at normal levels and tracking your intake with a food diary to make sure you aren't getting an excessive amount. Your doctor may also recommend you limit your alcohol intake if you're on warfarin, since alcohol can also inhibit the drug's functioning (via Medical News Today). If you are taking certain blood thinners, it's in your best interest to consult with your doctor and pay close attention to your diet, not only to benefit your heart health, but to make sure you're not consuming anything that could change the way your medications work.