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:
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If 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:
- brussel sprouts
- butternut squash
- celery (mid range, see comments below)
- chinese broccoli
- kale (huge amounts of vitamin K!)
- collard greens
- mustard greens
Vegetables Low in Vitamin K
Here is the list of ‘Coumadin friendly’ vegetables that contain the smallest amounts of vitamin K.
- cucumber (without the skin)
- green pepper
- sweet potatoes
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:
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