turkey sandwich
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Deli Turkey

When you have AFib, an irregular heartbeat, you need to watch what you eat. Too much salt raises your blood pressure, and high blood pressure may make you more likely to go into AFib. It may also make symptoms harder to manage, so your odds of having a stroke go up. One serving of deli turkey slices could have more than 1,000 milligrams of sodium. That's about half of what's OK for an entire day. Other super-salty foods include pizza, canned soups, breads, and rolls. Check food labels to find lower-sodium options.

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oatmeal
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Some Instant Oatmeals

Read the sugar content before you buy this quick and easy breakfast food. One popular fruit-flavored brand has about 11 grams of sugar in one packet -- almost 3 teaspoons of added sugar. Extra sugar in your diet can lead to obesity and high blood pressure, which can set off bouts of AFib. Other surprising sugar sources: pasta sauce, granola bars, and ketchup.

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coffee
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Coffee

The science on caffeine as a trigger for AFib is somewhat mixed. Older research suggests a link, newer studies don't. But either way, you should go easy on your coffee. Too much caffeine could raise your blood pressure and heart rate, which might set off episodes of AFib. Stick to no more than two or three cups a day. Or switch to decaf. Or do both.

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Leafy greens
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Leafy Greens

Taking a blood thinner can help stop clots, which lead to a stroke, from forming. But one type of these medications may not work as well when you eat foods high in vitamin K like lettuce, spinach, and kale. Talk to your doctor to find out if leafy greens change how well your medication works. If so, your doctor may be able to adjust your dose or change your medication so you can enjoy these healthy foods.

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grapefruit
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Grapefruit

If you take medicine to control your heart rhythm, skip this citrus fruit until you talk to your doctor. Grapefruits and grapefruit juice have chemicals that can change the way you digest certain medications. That makes side effects from these drugs more likely. Check with your doctor about whether grapefruit is OK for you.

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Man cutting meat
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Red Meat

The saturated fats in beef, lamb, and pork are the kind that raise bad cholesterol in your blood. High levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to heart disease and AFib and raise your odds of a stroke. Put lean cuts of beef, such as round or sirloin, and pork tenderloin or loin chops on the menu instead. For burgers or meatloaf, choose at least 90% lean ground beef, or replace half the meat with beans for a twist that trims fat.

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buttered toast
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Butter

Dairy products made from whole or 2% milk, cream, and cheese are also sources of saturated fat. Your body already makes all the "bad" cholesterol it needs, and eating foods with saturated fat causes it to make even more. The better-for-your-heart choice: skim milk and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Use heart-healthy oils like olive and canola for cooking.

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Fried doughnuts
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Fried Foods

Doughnuts, potato chips, and french fries may have what some doctors call the worst type of fat you can eat: trans fat. Unlike other fats, these are a double-whammy: They raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol. Baked goods, including cookies, cakes, and muffins, may also have them. Watch out for "partially hydrogenated oil" in the ingredients.

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energy drink
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Energy Drinks

Many brands add other ingredients to a super-sized shot of caffeine to give you a boost. That combo may be worse for your heart than caffeine alone. In one small study, energy drinks caused more changes to the heart's rhythm than other drinks with just as much caffeine. Another study linked energy drinks to bouts of AFib. Check with your doctor before downing these pick-me-ups.

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sea salt
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Sea Salt

Sure, the crystals are bigger than regular salt and the flavor a little stronger. But sea salt still has about the same amount of sodium as table salt, contrary to what many people think. One teaspoon of either has about 2,300 milligrams of sodium -- the recommended limit per day. To help shake your salt habit, try different spices and herbs to season your food, such as ginger on chicken or paprika in soups.

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white rice
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White Rice

These little grains are stripped of the nutrients and fiber your heart needs to stay healthy. Fiber can help improve cholesterol levels. It may also lower your risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes -- conditions linked to AFib. Opt for whole-grain brown or wild rice. Whole grains are more filling and may help lower your chance of stroke.

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Frozen Slushies
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Frozen Slushies

Those same icy drinks that cool you off on a hot, steamy day can also set off an episode of AFib. Though research is still in its early stages, one recently published study suggests there may be a link between downing a cold beverage, brain freeze, and an irregular heartbeat. If you notice a flutter after eating or drinking something cold, talk to your doctor.

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family meal
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Too Much of Anything

Overeating even healthy foods can pack on the pounds. You have a higher chance of getting AFib when you're overweight. It also makes your AFib more likely to come back after certain treatments, like ablation. If you're obese (your BMI is 30 or more), aim to lose at least 10% of your body weight. Start with portion control: Split an entree with a friend when you're eating out, or pack up half your meal to go before you even take a bite.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 10/30/2019 Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on October 30, 2019

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

Thinkstock Photos

 

SOURCES:

BreakUpWithSalt: "Sodium and Your Health," "A Closer Look at the Salty Six," "Sea Salt vs. Table Salt."

American Heart Association: "Shaking the Salt Habit to Lower High Blood Pressure," "Who is at Risk for Atrial Fibrillation (AF or AFib)?" "Added Sugars Add to Your Risk of Dying from Heart Disease," "Prevention Strategies for Atrial Fibrillation (AFib or AF)," "Alcohol and Heart Health," "Saturated Fat," "Cooking to Lower Cholesterol," "Making the Healthy Cut: Fish, Poultry and Lean Meats," "The Skinny on Fats," "Trans Fat," "Whole Grains, Refined Grains, and Dietary Fiber."

AFib Matters: "Living With Atrial Fibrillation."

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Added Sugar in Diet."

eatright.org: "Looking to Reduce Your Family's Intake of Added Sugars? Here's How."

USDA National Nutrient Database: "Basic Report: 08225, Cereals, QUAKER, Instant Oatmeal, fruit and cream variety, dry."

British Heart Journal: "Atrial fibrillation precipitated by tyramine containing foods."

Mayo Clinic: "I just started taking an MAOI for depression. Do I really need to follow a low-tyramine diet?" "Atrial fibrillation: Treatment," "Drugs and Supplements: Amiodarone (Oral Route): Precautions," "Trans fat is double trouble for your heart health," "Atrial fibrillation: Treatment."

MyAFibExperience.org: "Do I need to avoid certain foods for my AFib?" "Anti-coagulation and Healthy Nutrition."

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Caffeine consumption and incident atrial fibrillation in women."

Circulation: "Antiarrhythmic Drug Therapy for Atrial Fibrillation."

Journal of the American College of Cardiology: "Alcohol Consumption and Risk of Atrial Fibrillation: How Much Is Too Much?"

CardioSmart: "Atrial Fibrillation."

Journal of the American Heart Association: "Randomized Controlled Trial of High‐Volume Energy Drink Versus Caffeine Consumption on ECG and Hemodynamic Parameters."

Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine: "Energy drink overconsumption can trigger atrial fibrillation."

Center for Science in the Public Interest: "Caffeine Chart."

American Journal of Case Reports: "Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation and Brain Freeze: A Case of Recurrent Co-Incident Precipitation From a Frozen Beverage."

CDC: "How to Avoid Portion Size Pitfalls to Help Manage Your Weight."

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on October 30, 2019

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.