Arrhythmia: foods to avoid

Arrhythmia: foods to avoid

Cardiac arrhythmias are irregularities in the rhythm of the heart. They manifest themselves as palpitations, dizziness or, in the most serious cases, heart attacks. Diet has an important role to play because certain foods can make the situation worse. What products should you avoid in case of arrhythmia? For what ? What foods should you prefer? Explanations from Florence Foucaut, dietician-nutritionist.

We speak of cardiac arrhythmia when the heartbeats are irregular: they can race, we then speak of “tachycardia”, or on the contrary slow down, we speak of “bradycardia”. These irregularities can lead to various symptoms such as palpitations, a feeling of tightness, fatigue, dizziness… and gradually create the basis for a heart attack.

Can we cure a heart arrhythmia?

The appearance of an arrhythmia can be due to high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, a conduction disorder (abnormal electrical impulse within the heart), stress or even alcohol consumption. While drug treatment may be necessary, at the same time, a healthy lifestyle can help keep the heart in good shape. Thus, practicing appropriate physical activity coupled with following a healthy and varied diet is an excellent combination in the event of arrhythmia.

Except for one detail: certain foods can aggravate your arrhythmias while others do. the property of regulating heart rate. What are the trigger foods and which ones to favor? Overview of food choices and preferable options.

What are the 6 foods to ban in case of arrhythmia?

There are no prohibited foods in case of arrhythmia. “However, depending on the severity of individuals' arrhythmias, some may make the disorder worse. It will then be appropriate to avoid or limit their consumption., recommends Florence Foucaut, dietitian-nutritionist. If necessary, do not hesitate to go to a health professional who will be able to provide you with personalized advice according to your dietary needs.

Caffeine-based foods

Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant. It causes an increase in heart rate which can cause palpitations as well as an increase in blood pressure of approximately 6 to 8 mm Hg per 250 mg of caffeine.


It is estimated that there are approximately between 65 and 120 mg of caffeine in a cup of coffee, 40 mg of caffeine in an espresso and cappuccino, 80 mg in a latte and between 30 and 120 in instant coffee., specifies Florence Foucaut. People with arrhythmia are therefore advised not to exceed one cup of coffee per day.


To a lesser extent, tea also contains caffeine: while a cup of black tea (220 ml) provides 45 mg of this exciting substance, green tea only contains 30 mg. It is not recommended to drink more than one cup per day.

Energy drinks

Energy drinks can contain anywhere from 50 mg to more than 200 mg of caffeine per container. “In addition, these drinks generally contain other toning substances, such as taurine, indicates the dietitian. This cocktail can quickly become dangerous for people suffering from heart problems.. These drinks are therefore not recommended for people prone to arrhythmia problems.


This sweetness also contains a small dose of caffeine. “On average, a bar of dark chocolate (50 g) contains 25 mg of this exciting substance and a bar of milk chocolate, 10 mg,” specifies our expert. Far be it from us to deprive yourself of dessert, but if your arrhythmias are very frequent, it is better to consume this food in moderation.

Salt and foods high in salt

This condiment and foods containing it should be avoided if you suffer from high blood pressure because they can further increase your blood pressure numbers. “However, by reducing your daily consumption to only 6 g of salt, blood pressure drops by 5 mm Hg., specifies Florence Foucaut. It is not a question of no longer eating it at all, only of limiting its consumption by avoiding as much as possible foods which contain it such as prepared meals, processed meats such as cold meats, bread, cured meats, chips and aperitif biscuits, condiments and sauces such as ketchup, soy sauce, mayonnaise and mustard, certain cheeses in particular those with hard pastes (comté, cantal, etc.) and blue-veined (bleu, roquefort, etc.), water carbonated foods, canned foods and by not re-salting your dishes.


This plant should also be limited in cases of high blood pressure. Licorice contains glycerrrhizin, a substance that promotes sodium and water retention, which raises blood pressure and promotes hypertension. Aniseed alcohols, licorice-based candies as well as herbal teas containing this plant are therefore now prohibited.

Foods high in saturated fat

Consumption of foods high in fat leads to an increase in cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels. These two fats promote the risk of cardiovascular diseases which, in turn, can be responsible for arrhythmia.

Fatty meats

Beef, lamb, pork, cold meats, sausages and poultry skin contain high amounts of saturated fatty acids and cholesterol. They should therefore be consumed in moderation.

Full-fat dairy products

Cheeses and dairy products prepared with whole milk should also be consumed in moderation. As much as possible, replace them with dairy products made from semi-skimmed or even skimmed milk, and low-fat cheeses such as cancoillotte, ricotta, fresh goat's cheese, etc.

Fried foods

Donuts, fries and other nuggets and breaded fish are foods very high in cholesterol and saturated fatty acids. They are not recommended in your diet.

Pastries and pastries

Cakes, croissants and other buns often contain high amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol due to their content of butter and other animal fats. Limit your consumption of these products and opt for healthier snacks, such as fresh fruit and unsalted nuts.

Alcoholic drinks

Alcohol can cause a rapid increase in heart rate and worsen arrhythmia symptoms. Also, beer, spirits like whiskey, gin, etc. should be avoided. Wine can be consumed, preferably red for its contribution in antioxidants that protect the cardiac system, but at a rate of one glass per day, depending on the state of your health.

Foods high in added sugars

These food products promote weight gain and an increase in blood pressure, two risk factors for arrhythmia. It is therefore not recommended to regularly consume sugary drinks such as sodas, fruit juices containing sugar, sweets, cakes and pastries, cream desserts, breakfast cereals, jam, etc.

What diet in case of arrhythmia?

Fortunately, there are still many foods to include on your menus. They contain nutrients with beneficial effects on cardiovascular health.

Foods rich in omega-3

The Reduce-It study1, carried out in 2018 on 8,179 patients over 45 years old, for secondary prevention (i.e. having already had a cardiovascular accident) for 70% of them, and for primary prevention for 30%, showed a significant reduction in the rate of myocardial infarction by 31%, a reduction in cardiovascular mortality by 20%, a reduction in strokes by 28% thanks to supplementing their diet with omega 3. The reason? “These essential fatty acids reduce triglyceride levels and increase blood fluidity, thus limiting the risk of blood clots. They also have an anti-oxidant action which protects the cardiovascular system from premature aging, thus preventing the development of conditions., explains Dr. Jean-François Renucci., vascular doctor at CHU Timone, in Marseille. You will find them mainly in fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, etc.) to be consumed at a rate of one portion per week and in vegetable oils such as rapeseed, flax, walnut and hemp oils to be added to a tablespoon in your salad dressings, vegetable dishes, pasta or fish.

Foods rich in magnesium

This mineral plays a key role in regulating heart rate and contributes to the anti-arrhythmia system. Each day, for an adult, the recommended magnesium intake is set at 6 mg/kg/day. Thus, for a woman of approximately 60 kg, the ANC will be 360 ​​mg/day and for a man of approximately 70 kg, the ANC will be 420 mg/day. Magnesium is found in cocoa and dark chocolate, nuts, mollusks (seafood), whole grain foods, dried fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables (especially dark green leafy vegetables), meat, fish and dairy products also contain it, but in low proportions.

Red fruits

Red fruits such as raspberries, redcurrants, blueberries and other blackcurrants are a source of antioxidants. These substances effectively oppose the action of free radicals: the latter accelerate the premature aging of organs, including the heart, and create the basis for cardiovascular disorders.

Foods rich in potassium

This is indeed a mineral essential for the proper functioning of the heart rhythm. “It helps maintain blood pressure…