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Foods to Avoid When Taking Beta Blockers

author image Natalie Smith, Ph.D.
Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.

Beta blockers work by blocking the effects of the hormone epinephrine, also known as adrenaline. Blocking epinephrine causes a decrease in heart rate. Beta blockers are prescribed for tachycardia, glaucoma, high blood pressure and migraines. Like any medication, you should read all of the information provided to you by your physician and avoid any other medications, foods or beverages that can interact with the drug and/or reduce its effectiveness.


You should avoid drinking alcohol when taking beta-blockers because the depressant effects of alcohol can lower blood pressure too much, according to Peggy Stanfield, author of "Nutrition and Diet Therapy." Alcohol can also negate the effects of some beta blockers when they are taken for tachycardia, or rapid heartbeat, and cause your heart to pound. If you would like to enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage, consult your physician to find out what, if any, amount of alcohol is safe to consume while taking beta blockers.

High Potassium Foods

You should avoid foods that are high in potassium because beta blockers can limit the uptake of potassium from the bloodstream, according to Dr. James Balch, author of "Prescription for Drug Alternatives." High potassium foods include papaya, bananas, prunes, cantaloupe, raisins, oranges and pears. You should also avoid salt substitutes, according to Balch, because they tend to be high in potassium. Because beta blockers function in slightly different ways, ask your physician if you can eat any high potassium foods and if so, in what portion size.

Fatty Foods

Avoid fatty foods while on beta blockers because over time they increase the heart's workload, states Dr. Paul Barney, author of "Doctor's Guide to Natural Medicine." You should especially avoid deep fried foods, high cholesterol foods and saturated fats. Emphasize foods containing monounsaturated fats such as those found in olive oil and almonds. While some fat is necessary in your diet, choose fats that will not contribute, or contribute less, to heart disease.

High Sodium Foods

Like high fat foods, high sodium foods cause the heart to work harder. If you are on beta blockers due to high blood pressure, salt is especially a bad idea as it contributes to high blood pressure. Foods that are usually high in salt include canned soups, pre-packaged seasonings, foods containing MSG, diet soda and softened water. Your physician can assist you in planning a low-sodium diet plan.

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