Best Diet for Atrial Fibrillation(AFib) in 2022
A healthy diet have the capacity to improve the way you manage atrial fibrillation, or AFib. Learn what to eat and what to avoid to reduce your symptoms and lower your risk of developing other heart conditions.
Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is an abnormal rhythm of the upper chambers of the heart that causes the heart to beat much faster than normal. This creates an irregular heartbeat ( arrhythmia), and if not managed properly, can lead to a stroke and other heart-related problems. In the United States, 6 to 16 million people are projected to have this condition by 2050, according to a review published in June 2020 in Circulation Research.
The good news is that lifestyle factors can play a big role in helping you manage your AFib.
“The main issue is calories and alcohol,” says Hugh Calkins, MD, a professor of cardiology at John Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. “Many patients with afib are obese, and if you can get the weight off, that helps control the AFib.”
Check out these do and don’t tips for managing afib
Do Follow a Healthy Diet
“There really isn’t a special diet for AFib patients,” says Kelly Kennedy, RDN, the resident dietitian at Everyday Health. “Instead, healthcare professionals often recommend that people follow a general healthy diet.”
A healthy diet includes foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, beans, and seeds. Nuts are also a good choice. A study published in April 2018 in the journal Heart found that people eating nuts three or more times a week lowered their chances of getting AFib.
Kennedy notes there is also increasing evidence that a plant-based diet is beneficial for people with AFib. A review published in November 2019 in the Journal of Arrhythmia concluded that a plant-based diet may help reduce risk factors (high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes) associated with afib and is worth further investigation.
MOST HELPFUL TIPS ON AFIB FEEDING HABIT
For those who are intimidated by a plant-based diet, Kennedy says it doesn’t have to be a monumental lifestyle shift.
“You don’t have to be vegetarian or vegan,” she says. “Just eat more plants.”
Don’t Drink Too Much Caffeine — Drink Moderately
If you have AFib, you might want to cut down on the number of caffeinated drinks you chug. Drinking too much caffeine can speed up your heart and increase the frequency of premature heartbeats, which can be a problem. The good news is that you don’t have to give up your morning java or caffeinated tea entirely, just remember to drink in moderation.
In the largest study of its kind, a study published in July 2021 JAMA Internal Medicine found that caffeine didn’t seem to increase a person’s risk of arrhythmia.
It’s another study that says caffeine is not linked to afib,” says Dr. Calkins. “While there can be a patient triggered with a cup of coffee, if you ask me if I recommend that the typical AFib patient has to restrict their caffeine intake, the answer is no.”
Do Watch Your Salt Intake
Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure, putting you at greater risk for afib. Like caffeine, how much salt you eat depends on the individual. In fact, a study published May 2021 in the Journal of Internal Medicine found that salt intake did not affect AFib levels to the point of having to cut down on salt in the diet.The study did have contradicting results between genders and needs further investigating.
But Calkins says that if a person has hypertension or sleep apnea along with AFib, reducing salt intake can make a big difference.
Although salt is in a lot of foods we eat, there are many ways you can cut back on salt. For example, you can use salt-free seasonings to flavor your food or eat fewer processed foods. You should also avoid what the American Heart Association has deemed the “Salty Six” — foods like pizza, soups, burritos, and tacos that add the most salt to your diet.
Don’t Be a Frozen Food Snob
“In the past, frozen fruits and vegetables have gotten a bad reputation for not being as good as fresh foods,” says Kennedy. “What people don’t realize is that frozen fruits and vegetables often have a higher nutritional value than their fresh counterparts.”
That’s because frozen fruits and vegetables are often picked closer to the time when they’re ripe and then flash frozen shortly after. This helps preserve nutrients. In contrast, fresh fruits and vegetables are often picked early because they have to travel long distances to make it to grocery stores. By the time they get to the stores, some of the nutrients have been lost.
Do Stay Hydrated
Many people are unaware that being dehydrated can trigger afib, notes Kennedy. That’s why it’s important to drink enough water and fluids throughout the day. “It’s especially important for afib patients to pay attention to their potassium and magnesium intake,” says Kennedy.
Potassium and magnesium are electrolytes. When you have low levels of minerals in the blood (electrolytes), it can trigger an abnormal heart rhythm. And when you’re dehydrated, electrolytes can get depleted. Kennedy notes that the best way to get potassium and magnesium is from food (rather than supplements). Foods that are rich in potassium include fruits, vegetables, and fish. Magnesium can be found in foods like whole grains, beans, nuts, fortified breakfast cereals, and green leafy vegetables such as spinach.
Regarding water that claims to have health benefits, like alkaline water, Kennedy says to save your money. There isn’t any evidence that proves it can help with AFib — a regular glass of water will do the trick.
Don’t Forget to Watch Your Calories, Especially if You Want to Shed Extra Pounds
“The data linking AFib and weight is really extraordinary,” says Calkins. “The remarkable thing is, if you get the weight off, to a large degree strands of fat go away, the inflammation dies down, chambers get smaller, the pressures go down, and your AFib becomes less.”
But losing weight isn’t always easy. For many people, tracking what they eat on a regular basis helps them reach their weight loss goals. This can be done by simply writing down what you eat each day. Or, if you prefer tracking what you eat on your phone or a website, check out Lose It!, Fooducate, or MyFitnessPal. All have smartphone apps that are available at the App Store and Google Play..
“The single most important trigger for afib is obesity, but it’s also the thing people have the hardest time addressing,” he says.
Do See a Registered Dietitian
“Anyone can benefit from seeing a registered dietitian,” says Kennedy, noting that people who have been recently diagnosed with AFib or those with multiple health conditions such as AFib and diabetes may want to work with a dietitian. That’s because different health conditions have different food considerations. And that can make meal planning complicated.
Kennedy notes that another good time to consider seeing a dietitian is when your medications have been changed. For example, people who take blood thinners like warfarin need to be mindful of eating foods rich in vitamin K, like kale and spinach.
You can find a dietitian through your health insurance company or professional organizations like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Don’t Drink Too Much Booze
Alcohol has been shown to be a major trigger of AFib. A study published in January 2022 in Nature Cardiovascular Research suggests that binge or excessive drinking is linked with an increased risk of an episode of AFib, even in people without a previous episode.
“Over the last five years, there are more and more studies linking moderate amounts of alcohol, even a glass of wine or a beer, to increasing your risk of having AFib,” says Calkins. “Some people are very sensitive to alcohol.”
Kennedy says that quitting alcohol can be difficult for some, so it’s important to strive for progress, not perfection. Monitor your symptoms, and if alcohol is a trigger, eliminating it will make a bigger difference for you than it would somebody else.
What is a good diet for someone with AFib?
Aim to eat a heart-healthy diet, including:
- Whole grains.
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
- Proteins such as lean meats, nuts, seeds and beans.
- Foods low in salt, added sugars, saturated fat and trans fat.
What breakfast is good for atrial fibrillation?
For breakfast, choose whole, high-fiber foods like fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. An example of a healthy breakfast would be unsweetened oatmeal with berries, almonds, chia seeds, and a dollop of low-fat Greek yogurt. Reduce your salt and sodium intake.
What foods should be avoided with atrial fibrillation?
7 best Foods to Avoid When You Have Atrial Fibrillation
- Alcohol. Alcohol tops the list of items to avoid on an atrial fibrillation diet. …
- Cranberry Juice
- Asparagus and Leafy Green Vegetables
- Processed and Salty Foods
Does AFib require a special diet?
“There really isn’t a special diet for AFib patients,” says Kelly Kennedy, RDN, the resident dietitian at Everyday Health. “Instead, healthcare professionals often recommend that people follow a general healthy diet.” A healthy diet includes foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, beans, and seeds.
What helps atrial fibrillation naturally?
Natural and Alternative Treatments for AFib
- Avoid stimulants.
- Get your nutrients.
- Stay hydrated.
- Cut out gluten.
- Exercise and stress relief.
Can you eat cheese with AFib?
People living with AFib should avoid eating foods high in saturated fat, like butter and cheese; trans fats, found in margarine; and, cholesterol, found in meats and dairy.
Are bananas good for atrial fibrillation?
Fresh fruit provides lots of nutrients; bananas especially may be beneficial in managing AFib due to their high potassium levels. Low potassium levels may increase your risk of arrhythmia, so instead of going for the packaged fruit cups with loads of extra sugars, stick to fresh fruit.
Can eating trigger AFib?
Large meals. For some individuals, consuming a large meal can cause gastrointestinal problems. These, in turn, can stimulate the vagus nerve, which connects the gut, brain and heart. A spike in the vagus nerve from eating a large meal can spark an AFib event.
What foods stop heart palpitations?
Eat a diet with lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. You can even look for foods with the American Heart Association’s check mark of approval. Get your blood pressure checked. High blood pressure often has no symptoms.
Is broccoli good for AFib?
Not only does broccoli have a good amount of calcium — which has been associated with reduced blood pressure, it also contains fiber, which can help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, says Rivera. Keeping cholesterol levels under control is especially important for people with atrial fibrillation.
Can bread cause palpitations?
Processed carbs can contribute to palpitations as well. That’s because most carbs are broken down into glucose, or sugar, when they’re digested. As a result, they can drive up blood-sugar levels, just like table sugar.
Is dark chocolate good for AFib?
“Dark chocolate has been shown to favorably impact some of the risk factors for atrial fibrillation, such as high blood pressure, body inflammation, and the response of the body to stress,” says Bunch.
Does drinking water help AFib?
When you have atrial fibrillation, drinking enough water is important. Electrolyte levels plummet when you’re dehydrated. This can lead to abnormal heart rhythm. When you’re dehydrated, your body’s electrolytes (electrolytes in general, and sodium and potassium in particular) are crucial for heart health.
Can onions cause AFib?
A Swedish study showed that 5% of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation patients had their arrhythmia triggered by onions.
Can honey cause heart palpitations?
The toxic effects of honey poisoning are bradycardia, cardiac arrhythmia, hypotension, nausea, vomiting, sweating, salivation, dizziness, weakness, loss of consciousness, fainting, blurred vision, chills, and cyanosis.
Do walnuts help AFib?
“Walnuts are especially rich in alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid with a number of cardioprotective effects, including the prevention of cardiac arrhythmias that may lead to sudden cardiac death.” So, walnuts can help prevent cardiac arrhythmias
Can magnesium stop AFib?
When you don’t have enough of it in your body, you may have an irregular heartbeat. Studies suggest magnesium supplements may also help lower blood pressure slightly. Other research has shown that getting magnesium through an IV may help control AFib for some people in the hospital.
Is green tea good for atrial fibrillation?
Green tea was shown to reduce paroxysmal and persistent atrial fibrillation in a case-control study, while moderate tea consumption was correlated with a reduction in ventricular arrhythmia in patients after myocardial infarction.
Can sugar trigger AFib?
Below are a few common foods that can trigger AFib. High sugar foods: Consuming high sugar food can lead to obesity and high blood pressure as well. High blood pressure can trigger AFib episodes. Artificial sweeteners can be just as bad as or even worse than traditional sugar.
What drinks help lower heart rate?
When the body is dehydrated, the heart has to work harder to stabilize blood flow. A 2017 study found that a 335-milliliter drink of water could reduce resting heart rate over a 30-minute period.
Can salmon cause heart palpitations?
The consumption of dark fish (such as salmon, swordfish, bluefish, mackerel, and sardines) may increase our risk of atrial fibrillation—an irregular heartbeat rhythm associated with stroke, dementia, heart failure, and a shortened lifespan.
Can vitamin D cause palpitations?
Taking too much vitamin D is not good either, as it can lead to hypercalcemia, or high calcium levels, which can also cause irregular heartbeat.
Are almonds good for AFib?
Each extra portion of nuts eaten during the week was associated with a 4% decrease in the chance of having AFib. Researchers also saw less heart failure with people who ate moderate (but not high) amounts of nuts.
What is the best form of magnesium for heart palpitations?
We have also found that magnesium taurate is meant to help in heart palpitations and make the heart stronger
Are eggs good for AFib?
Certain foods, such as caffeine or alcohol, have the potential to trigger AFib. A diet that promotes heart health may help manage and reduce the symptoms of this condition.
Foods to eat for AFib.
Frequently vegetables whole grains olive oil fruits legumes
Less frequently fish chicken and turkey nuts and seeds eggs dairy
How much magnesium should you take if you have AFib?
In the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias of varying genesis, an “observational study” in 1,160 patients showed that a high-dose oral magnesium preparation (Magnesium-Diasporal N 300 Granulat) was effective. In 82% of the patients observed, a dose of at least 300 mg magnesium/day produced good to very good results.
What is the best magnesium to take for AFib?
Angstrom Magnesium has the best magnesium absorption and generally the fewest digestive side effects. It’s especially good for those who are severely magnesium deficient and need a lot of magnesium in order to replenish their levels.
Are sardines good for AFIB?
Omega-3s are found in foods such as salmon, albacore tuna, sardines, walnuts, and flaxseed. Foods with these fatty acids reduce the risk for arrhythmias, decrease triglyceride levels, and slow plaque formation.
Does oatmeal increase heart rate?
Heart rate increased following the high fat meal with oats (p<0.05), but no differences were found between fasting and postprandial PWV after any of the meals.
Can canned tuna cause heart palpitations?
SINGAPORE – The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority has detected high levels of a chemical that can cause symptoms like vomiting, rashes and heart palpitations in the canned product, Tuna chunks in Polyunsaturated Oil, from the brand Farmland.
Can low potassium cause atrial fibrillation?
Especially in participants with a history of myocardial infarction, those with hypokalemia had a higher risk of atrial fibrillation than those with normokalemia (HR: 3.81, 95%-CI: 1.51-9.61). Conclusions: In this study low serum levels of potassium were associated with a higher risk of atrial fibrillation.
What Is a Healthy Heart breakfast?
Scrambled eggs, whole-grain toast, one cup of milk and sliced apples. Greek yogurt with whole-grain cereal and berries. Whole-grain toast with peanut butter or alternative, sliced apples, one cup of milk. Yogurt parfait with plain yogurt, ground flax seeds or muesli and fresh fruit.
Is boiled egg good for the heart?
Most healthy people can eat up to seven eggs a week without increasing their risk of heart disease. Some studies have shown that this level of egg consumption might even help prevent certain types of stroke and a serious eye condition called macular degeneration that can lead to blindness.
What should a heart patient eat for lunch?
Lunch Ideas for Work: Heart-Healthy Options
- Low-sodium canned tuna or low-sodium canned salmon (try it in a salad or on a sandwich with whole-wheat bread)
- Low-fat string cheese.
- Fresh fruits.
- Non-fat yogurt.
- Veggie sticks.
Is milk good for heart?
Old-fashioned cow’s milk, for example, is loaded with calcium and vitamins A and D, which are all good for your heart and overall health. But too much of the saturated fat and cholesterol in whole milk — and even in 2 percent milk — may counteract those health benefits.