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Ask Tufts Experts February 2013 Issue

Q: After being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, I was put on warfarin, a blood thinner. Now I am supposed to avoid all those nutritious dark-green leafy vegetables I used to eat, like spinach, Swiss chard and beet greens, because they are high in vitamin K, which helps the blood to clot. But I am missing out on all their other healthy nutrients. Is there a way around this dilemma?

Answer :  Sarah Booth, PhD, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Vitamin K Laboratory, replies, "I would recommend that you work with your healthcare provider to have green vegetables in your diet that contain healthy nutrients but may not have the high amount and variability in content of vitamin K that the greens listed have. Paler leaves and other green plant-based products, such as peas, are still healthy but are not so rich in vitamin K. Also, there are ways to have modest amounts of those high vitamin K greens in the diet, hence not complete avoidance. Clearly the days of spinach salads are over for you, but substitutions can be made, including some raw spinach in combination with other plant-based foods. Perhaps consultation with a registered dietitian (RD) would benefit you, along with consistency of diet, careful monitoring and lots of communication with your healthcare provider." 

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