Juicing and the Anticoagulant Medication Coumadin (Warfarin)

We got an email today asking about what juices are best for people taking the anticoagulant medication Coumadin (also known as Warfarin). It is a good question because many people are using this blood-thinning drug, so I thought it would be important to cover this topic. Before I go any further, here is a medical disclaimer:

The statements and products referred to throughout this site have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition. If you have a health condition or concern, consult a physician or your alternative health care provider. Always consult a medical doctor before modifying your diet, using any new product, drug, supplement, or doing new exercises.

juicing and coumadinIf you are taking Coumadin then you will have already been informed by your physician of the foods and drinks to avoid or cut down on. These are foods and beverages that are high in vitamin K, and drinks such as cranberry juice and alcohol. Green leafy vegetables, some vegetable oils, liver and green tea are on the hot list since they are all high sources of vitamin K.

So what’s the deal with vitamin K?

One of the key functions of vitamin K is to to help the blood clot. This is a natural, healthy thing and we would bleed to death without it, especially if we cut our selves badly. However, for anyone with thick blood that has the potential to be life threatening, leading to possible strokes or a heart attack, they are prescribed a medication like Coumadin by their doctor. Coumadin is a blood-thinning medication and has the opposite effect to vitamin K in the body. While it is important to still have vitamin K in the diet because it is an essential vitamin, those taking Coumadin need to limit their intake so that this vitamin doesn’t counter its effects.

Vegetables High in Vitamin K
Drinking vegetable juice recipes can have some very beneficial effects for those with cardiovascular disease and can help lower blood pressure, promote a healthier blood cholesterol profile, detoxify the blood, and even help slow down or reverse the progression of atherosclerosis. So it is a great idea for those using Coumadin to drink fresh juice everyday, providing the juice is made from vegetables low in vitamin K – but first things first, let’s list the vegetables to avoid:

  • broccoli
  • brussel sprouts
  • butternut squash
  • cabbage
  • celery (mid range, see comments below)
  • chinese broccoli
  • kale (huge amounts of vitamin K!)
  • spinach
  • parsley
  • collard greens
  • mustard greens
  • chard

Vegetables Low in Vitamin K
Here is the list of ‘Coumadin friendly’ vegetables that contain the smallest amounts of vitamin K.

  • beetroot
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • cucumber (without the skin)
  • green pepper
  • sweet potatoes
  • lettuce
  • celery

I especially recommend using celery because it contains antioxidants called phthalides that are shown to have relaxant effects on the muscles of major arteries. This helps arteries to expand more when pumping blood, helping to lower blood pressure.

Here are two great resources if you want some great reference charts for vitamin K food content:

Vegetable nutrition chart
Vitamin K content of all foods

Fruits and Vitamin K
No fruit is high in vitamin K! They all have low levels of this vitamin except for pomegranate and green apples (red are low) which contain moderate amounts, however they are still not high. Apples juiced with their skins on is recommended because numerous studies show that apple juice helps to lower “LDL” bad cholesterol blood levels and lower blood pressure. While apple juice made from peeled apples is also shown to help, apples juiced with their peels on are more effective.

Cranberry Juice, Alcohol and Green Tea
Cranberry juice and alcohol should be cut down to a very minimal amount or cut-out of the diet all together. They have strong blood-thinning effects and may thin the blood too much in combination with Coumadin. Green tea, as wonderfully healthy as this beverage is, is unfortunately a drink high in vitamin K. This is a shame, since green tea is otherwise beneficial for heart health!
To your health
Darren Haynes

9 Responses to “Juicing and the Anticoagulant Medication Coumadin (Warfarin)”

  1. Dave says:

    Thanks for the information. I noticed you have celery listed as foods to avoid, as well as on the “friendly” list. Since you strongly recommend celery for its antioxidant value, it must have been mistakenly added to the foods to avoid for vitamin K.

    Can you clarify?

    Thanks again.

  2. veronica says:

    Hi Dave,

    My apologies for the confusion! I have updated the post! Celery kind of falls in the mid range – but because of its blood pressure lowering benefits I though it should get a mention!


  3. Deidre Myers says:

    I have recently switched to the blood thinner Pradaxa. Since it works differently than Coumadim or Warfarin I was wondering if the leafy greens would still be considered unfriendly?

  4. veronica says:

    Hi Deidre,

    I am not a Doctor so this information should never be a substitute for a Doctor’s advice and is for informational purposes only.

    I would think that any blood thinning medication would not work well with the leafy greens since the issue is that the leafy greens have lots of vitamin K that promote blood clotting, therefore having the opposite effect of blood-thinning meds.


  5. K says:

    can you list a couple recipes for new juicers who happen to be on coumadin? I am new to juicing and am unsure what combos to put together for health and taste 🙂

  6. AndiRaya Gibb says:

    I am currently having an issue with juicing and coumadin. The problem comes from the days after chemotherapy when I am too ill to make my juice. On the days I drink my juice my 10 mg coumadin gives me 2.1 to 2.3 on the PT-INR test. On the other days I get a 3.8 reading. I need to figure out a way of taking maybe half the coumadin on those days and, unfortunately, I don’t know in advance which day that is going to be. Also, I already know about the Vit K so I always add 1″ ginger root to the machine to try and balance it.

  7. Karen says:

    There is a lot of confusion about Vitamin K and Warfarin. Green leafy vegetables are extremely beneficial in many ways. They are high in Vitamin K that promotes the clotting that Warfarin is intended to prevent. Your dosage of Warfarin is calculated on your clotting rate/INR levels. Keep leafy greens in your diet!!!! Provided you do not yo-yo on your consumption of them..and do your best to eat similar amounts each week. The amount of Warfarin you need to take to sustain your INR at the optimum figure will be adjusted accordingly. Vitamin K is NOT ‘dangerous’… !!!

  8. Karen says:

    If anything your INR is easier to moderate on a juice diet as all the ingredients will be calculated in advance and measured each day rather than eating more haphazardly as we do in ‘normal’ circumstances. If you are monitoring your own INR with a home device it’s even easier still.

  9. Tim says:

    I agree with Karen, I’ve been on Warfarin for over 8 years now after being diagnosed with APS. When I was in the hospital recovering from blood clots in my lungs I questioned the vegetables that I was being served and because I had always been told that when on blood thinners you had to avoid vitamin k. My doctor explained that its not a matter of avoiding those vegetables its a matter of being consistent with your intake. I throw a hand full of fresh spinach into just about every smoothie I make. Just consult with your anti-coagulation team before leaping in as they might need to monitor your INR a bit more often until your numbers level out.

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