Meal Plan for Blood Thinners

People using blood thinner drugs for heart conditions must monitor their International Normalised Ratio (INR) and keep it within a certain clotting range. Certain foods, particularly those high in vitamin K and salicylates, need to be controlled.

The main blood thinner drugs used to treat types of cardiovascular disease include warfarin, aspirin, heparin and enoxaparin. It is warfarin in particular that people using it need to especially watch their diet as it decreases the amount of vitamin K available for use in the body, which in turn affects the efficiency of blood clot formation. Consuming too much vitamin K can prevent the efficacy of warfarin. A normal person should have an INR of around 1.0. People who are treated with blood thinners usually aim for a range of 2.0-3.0, with a target of 2.5. For someone with a mechanical heart valve, the range is 2.5-3.5 with a target of 3.0. A level over 4.0 can be very dangerous.

Consumption of foods high in vitamin K are listed here and should be limited to just a few ounces per day. If you do want to eat larger amounts, be consistent day-to-day so that a consistent medication dose can be established. Instead select vegetables low in vitamin K such as sweetcorn, carrots, cauliflower, onions, green beans, peppers and tomato. Use oils that are low in vitamin K such as corn oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil and sesame oil. Canola oil and soybean oil have the highest vitamin K content.

Salicylates are found in a wide variety of foods and details of this can be found in our salicylates sensitivity diet. Consuming large amounts of foods too high in salicylates can raise the INR, so it's important to watch the intake of these. Also, be aware that caffeine and alcohol both have an affects the INR test results.

The following example meal plan has been designed as a diet for blood thinners, in particular warfarin. It's based on an average weight individual with a sedentary job for weight maintenance. Use this to give you an idea of what are healthy nutritious foods to include, but don't forget to vary your food choices and to drink plenty of water through the day.

High fibre cereal (like Weetabix, bran flakes, Shreddies, porridge, etc – no dried fruit and no oats) + 200ml skimmed milk + 1 tsp sugar
Drink water
2 wholewheat biscuits
Banana / pear
Drink water
Sandwich: 2 slices granary bread + sunflower oil-based spread + slice chicken or smoked salmon
Lettuce, small amount of tomatoes
Tbsp sunflower seeds
Drink water
Handful cashew nuts
Banana / pear
Drink water
Evening Meal
Large chicken breast or fillet white fish
Basmati rice or pasta or potatoes
Carrots / swede / sweetcorn
Drink water
Rye crispbread with low fat soft cheese
Banana / pear
Drink water
Plans for people with illness or medical conditions in no way should override advice provided specifically for you by your doctor, clinical dietitian or other clinician. We advise that you seek the advice of a suitably qualified physician before commencing any exercise regime, following any dietary or nutritional regimen or beginning the use of any dietary supplements, legal or otherwise. The information provided on the Website is intended as information only and does not constitute advice. Therefore, it must not be relied on to assist in making or refraining from making a decision, or to assist in deciding on a course of action.