Foods to avoid if you are taking Zetia
Zetia is the brand name of a drug called ezetimibe, which doctors prescribe to help lower cholesterol.
Zetia isn’t known to interact with foods. However, as doctors often prescribe this medication alongside statins, another type of cholesterol-lowering drug, they may recommend avoiding certain foods.
A doctor may also recommend dietary changes to help manage your cholesterol levels.
Understanding cholesterol, Zetia, and statins
Ezetimibe, the active ingredient in Zetia, works by blocking the absorption of cholesterol.
Doctors often prescribe Zetia alongside a statin and low cholesterol diet to help lower the absorption and reduce the production of cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance your liver makes to help digest fatty foods. There are two types of cholesterol:
- high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as “good” cholesterol
- low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as “bad” cholesterol
Statins reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol your liver produces. They also help your liver remove the cholesterol that’s already circulating in your bloodstream.
Examples of statins a doctor might prescribe include:
- atorvastatin (Lipitor)
- fluvastatin (Lescol)
- rosuvastatin (Crestor)
- simvastatin (Flolipid, Zocor)
- lovastatin (Altroprest)
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Foods to avoid while taking Zetia
When taking Zetia with a statin, eating a balanced diet that won’t raise your cholesterol levels can be helpful.
Let’s take a look at some of the foods you should avoid while taking Zetia.
The oils commonly used to fry foods, like peanut oil and palm oil, are often high in saturated and trans fats, which can increase cholesterol.
For example, a serving of french fries, or 171 grams (g), of french fries has about 2.7 grams (g) of saturated fat.
A 2015 study involving more than 15,000 people found a link between the frequency of fried food consumption and the likelihood of heart failure.
An older 2012 study looked at the link between the risk of heart disease and the type of oil used for frying. It found that food fried in olive and sunflower oil didn’t affect the risk of heart disease.
Red meats, like beef, lamb, and pork, are high in saturated fat.
A 2020 study found a direct link between the consumption of red meat and coronary heart disease.
A 2022 study found that the consumption of red meat leads to higher levels of fat (including cholesterol) in your blood.
This doesn’t mean you need to completely cut meat from your diet. But limiting the amount of red meat you eat, especially if you have high cholesterol, can be helpful.
Processed meat, like sausages, hot dogs, and bacon, is high in saturated fats and cholesterol.
More research is needed to determine the specific health risks of eating processed meat, according to a 2020 study. However, the authors note that cutting down on processed meat can help lower “bad” cholesterol.
Baked goods, like cookies and pastries, are often high in cholesterol.
Baked goods commonly contain ingredients that are high in saturated and trans fats like:
- added sugars
Saturated and trans fats can increase the level of “bad” cholesterol in the blood, according to the AHA.
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If you’re taking Zetia alongside a statin, it’s best to avoid eating grapefruit or grapefruit juice.
The following statins come with a grapefruit warning:
Grapefruit can affect how your body absorbs these medications, leading to higher concentrations circulating in your bloodstream.
Foods that help lower cholesterol
Foods high in fiber and “good” cholesterol can help prevent and manage high cholesterol. High fiber foods include:
- legumes and beans
- fatty fish, like salmon and mackerel
- nuts, like almonds and walnuts
- fruits and vegetables
- dark leafy greens, like kale and spinach
What else can interact with Zetia?
Zetia can interact with other medications and substances.
Some of the medications Zetia can interact with include:
- other cholesterol-lowering drugs like cholestyramine (Prevalite), colestipol (Colestid), and colesevelam (Welchol)
- blood thinners like warfarin
- organ transplant medications like cyclosporine (Gengraf)
- fibrates, which are drugs to lower triglyceride levels, like fenofibrate (Lipofen), fenofibric acid (Trilipix), and gemfibrozil (Lopid)
How can you avoid an interaction?
To avoid interactions while taking Zetia, talk with a healthcare professional or a pharmacist. They can guide you on potential medication interactions.
Check with a healthcare professional before taking a supplement or new medication if you’re already taking Zetia.
Zetia (ezetimibe) is a medication that helps lower cholesterol levels in your blood.
The medication itself doesn’t have any specific interactions with food. However, because doctors often prescribe it with statins, you may need to avoid grapefruits or grapefruit juice.
Zetia can also interact with other drugs and substances. Before taking Zetia, speak with a healthcare professional about the medications and supplements you’re taking.
Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.
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- Al Shaar L, et al. (2020). Red meat intake and risk of coronary heart disease among US men: Prospective cohort study. https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4141
- Bergeron N, et al. (2019). Effects of red meat, white meat, and nonmeat protein sources on atherogenic lipoprotein measures in the context of low compared with high saturated fat intake: A randomized controlled trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6599736/
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