Palpitations are sensations in your chest, neck or throat that feel as though your heart is racing or pounding. They are not typically serious, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, but they can indicate medical conditions in need of treatment. Although not known to cause palpitations directly, sugar and other carbohydrate sources might contribute to your symptoms. For ensured wellness, seek guidance from your doctor.
Causes of heart palpitations can include emotions, such as anxiety, stress and fear; medications, such as that for asthma and high blood pressure; diet pills; nicotine; exercise and medical conditions, such as anemia, hypoglycemia and hyperthyroidism, or an over-active thyroid gland. Although anyone can experience hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, it is most prevalent among people with diabetes, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
If you have diabetes and consume high-glycemic foods, which have a significant impact on your blood sugar, your risk increases for blood sugar imbalances and related heart palpitations. Particularly high-glycemic foods include candy, dates, doughnuts, potatoes and low-fiber cereals, such as corn flakes. If you have an eating disorder – something common with anxiety disorders, according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America – you might experience heart palpitations after eating carbohydrate-rich foods out fear of resultant weight-gain. Palpitations also might be a symptom of hyperthyroidism, which can worsen after eating refined foods, such as white bread and sugar.
In addition to proper treatment for any underlying condition, making dietary changes that normalize your blood sugar levels and stopping caffeine use can help minimize heart palpitations, according to women's health expert Dr. Christiane Northrup. Common ways to improve the glycemic impact of your diet include cutting back on refined foods, such as white bread, snack chips and sugary sweets, and choosing complex carbohydrate sources, such as whole grains, non-starchy vegetables and fruits, instead. Eating balanced meals and snacks at regular intervals and not skipping meals also promotes positive blood sugar levels. For reduced anxiety, MayoClinic.com psychiatrist Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin recommends eating more carbohydrates, which might increase calmness, and omega-3 fatty acids, which promote brain function and positive moods. Omega-3 fatty acids are in cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel and halibut, and in flaxseeds and walnuts.
Unless a condition such as thyroid disease or anxiety disorder underlies your palpitation symptoms, an overall heart-healthy diet can help to prevent irregular heart rhythm, according to MayoClinic.com. Such a diet involves eating more fruits and vegetables, swapping refined grains, such as white flour, for whole grains, such as oats, and limiting saturated fat, trans-fats and cholesterol. Unhealthy fat and cholesterol sources include high-fat meats and dairy products, butter, margarine, fried foods and processed foods containing hydrogenated vegetable oil. Rather than avoid carbohydrates, choose nutritious, fiber-rich sources, such as 100 percent whole-grain breads and cereals, sweet potatoes, beans, lentils and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Heart Palpitations
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Hypoglycemia
- Linus Pauling Institute: Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load
- Anxiety Disorders Association of America: Eating Disorders
- Dr. Christiane Northrup: Heart Palpitations
- MayoClinic.com: Coping with Anxiety: Can Diet Make a Difference?