Foods to eat and avoid when taking furosemide and other diuretics
Diuretics reduce fluid buildup in the body and increase urine output. These medications work by blocking the absorption of sodium, chloride, and water from the kidneys, allowing for an increase in urine production and passing.
Furosemide and food
Diuretics are common in treating high blood pressure (hypertension), fluid retention (edema), or both.
Common diuretics include furosemide (Lasix) and hydrochlorothiazide.
Flushing out that extra fluid is important. When your fluid levels are too high, your heart and arteries work harder because there’s more blood and fluid to move around your body. That can raise your risk of stroke, heart failure, kidney failure, or heart attack. Furosemide and similar medications can be crucial treatment tools to keep you healthy.
Here’s what else matters when you’re taking a strong diuretic such as furosemide: your diet. The foods you eat can have a direct effect on the amount of fluid your body retains. There are two main things to focus on:
When you consume high sodium foods or beverages, your kidneys have a harder time removing fluid. That fluid then builds up in your body, raising your blood pressure.
The main job of a diuretic is to cause fluid loss. But the downside is that electrolytes such as potassium can be depleted, too. That’s why it’s important to watch your potassium levels and make sure you’re getting enough.
Low potassium can cause muscle weakness, cramping, and even irregular heartbeat.
The diuretic diet: Foods to avoid
If you’re taking furosemide or a similar diuretic, it is best to avoid foods and drinks with high salt content – but not exclude salt altogether. Adults need between 1,500 milligrams (mg)–2,300 mg of sodium daily.
Here are some tips on what to skip and what foods to avoid.
- Frozen foods: Many frozen and other types of ready-made meals are high in salt and can interfere with diuretics.
- Canned or pickled foods: Pickled and brined foods are typically high in salt. However, reduced-sodium or no-salt-added products are often available.
- Snack foods: Chips, pretzels, and popcorn are often salted. These foods can rapidly increase your daily sodium intake without providing much nutritional value.
- Deli meats: Many deli meats are highly processed and high in salt due to seasoning or preservation.
- Cheese: Processed cheese is often high in sodium. For example, one slice of American cheese may have more than 250 mg of sodium.
- Condiments, sauces, and dressings: Dressings can add large amounts of salt to the diet without people realizing. For example, one tablespoon of mayo has close to 90 mg of sodium.
- Processed breads and cereals: Checking labels is essential. For example, one half-cup serving of Grape-Nuts has 270 mg of sodium.
In addition to limiting salt intake, when taking diuretics, including hydrochlorothiazide, it’s important to avoid consuming alcohol as this may cause dangerously low blood pressure.
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Diuretic diet: Foods to stock up on
Managing sodium intake and eating a balanced diet will ensure diuretics work as intended and support overall health. But there are some extra considerations a person can take.
High potassium foods
Some diuretics may cause you to pass potassium in the urine, lowering your overall potassium levels. Eating a range of fruits and vegetables rich in potassium can help redress this balance. Examples include:
- beans and legumes
- leafy greens
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is a low sodium diet for treating high blood pressure. This diet can also help lower water retention.
The DASH diet offers loads of additional health benefits, including the prevention of osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The diet prioritizes the intake of:
- whole grains
- oily fish
- lean poultry
- low fat dairy products
If you need help getting started on DASH, talk with a healthcare professional or dietitian. You can also check out this guide.
Diuretics such as furosemide and hydrochlorothiazide help the body pass more fluids and salt in the urine. This can reduce fluid buildup (edema) and help lower blood pressure.
When taking diuretics, it’s essential to monitor salt intake to ensure the medication works effectively. Diuretics can also cause the body to pass potassium from the body, so eating fruits and vegetables rich in this nutrient may also benefit you.
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- Common questions about furosemide. (2022). https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/furosemide/common-questions-about-furosemide/
- Dash eating plan. (2021). https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/education/dash-eating-plan
- Dietary guidelines for Americans 2020–2025. (2020). https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2021-03/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans-2020-2025.pdf
- FoodData central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/index.html
- Types of blood pressure medications. (2023). https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/types-of-blood-pressure-medications