The sensation of your heart skipping a beat or beating irregularly can be quite jarring when it happens for the first time. One second, you’re fine — the next, your heart rate or heart rhythm might feel clunky, almost like it’s skipping a beat. This sensation is referred to as heart palpitations and is actually quite common.
A rare bout of heart palpitations is typically not concerning, but if it happens on a regular basis, it may be a cause for concern. Being predisposed to recurrent heart palpitations can indicate that something is wrong and should be investigated by a doctor to rule out any underlying condition.
If you frequently have heart palpitations, a visit to the cardiologist is one of the first steps to getting definitive treatment.
While receiving treatment, there are a number of things you can do in your everyday life to support better heart health. One of those actions is to limit the consumption of certain foods that may trigger heart palpitations.
Below is a closer look at what causes heart palpitations, foods you should limit if you have frequent heart palpitations, and other ways you can support your overall heart health.
Heart palpitations are fairly common and are oftentimes not too much of a worry. The feeling of your heart skipping a beat, fluttering, racing, or pounding tends to be short-lived. When heart palpitations become more frequent, however, it can indicate an underlying issue.
Infrequent bouts of heart palpitations are thought to be exacerbated by dehydration, stress, low electrolytes, low blood sugar, and too much caffeine. If you have frequent heart palpitations, they could be caused by heart disease, thyroid issues, heart arrhythmia, coronary artery disease, and other health conditions that affect the heart.
While heart palpitations are not an emergency, it is important to distinguish them from potential warning signs of a cardiac event like a heart attack. Heart palpitations tend to be temporary and only mildly agitating, while heart attacks and other emergent heart conditions tend to cause sustained chest pain, atrial fibrillation (AFib), and shortness of breath.
If you have a history of recurrent palpitations, one thing you can do to help is limit your consumption of foods that act as triggers. Trigger foods differ from person to person, and keeping a food diary can be helpful to determine what you last ate when a heart palpitation strikes.
While there is no one-size-fits-all diet for heart palpitations, limiting your consumption of these eight foods may be helpful.
If you're experiencing heart palpitations, one of the first things you should consider cutting back is your caffeine intake. Caffeine naturally occurs in coffee, tea, and chocolate and is also found in energy drinks and sports beverages.
Caffeine acts as a stimulant, which means that it directly interacts with the sympathetic nervous system. This can increase heart rate and elevate blood pressure, both of which can place you at a higher likelihood of heart palpitations.
This isn’t to say that you can’t enjoy a morning cup of coffee, but simply being mindful of your caffeine consumption and limiting it when possible may help reduce heart palpitations.
Spicy foods aren't for everyone, but for those that consistently eat spicy foods, it may help to be mindful of your consumption and limit it when possible. Spicy foods can cause a physiologic response that can present as a high heart rate (tachycardia). A high heart rate can cause discomfort in someone who is already predisposed to experience heart palpitations.
You don’t need to remove everything spicy from your diet. Simply being mindful and keeping it mild can go a long way in helping to reduce the frequency of heart palpitations.
Red meat is high in saturated fat, which can contribute to heart disease and heart palpitations. If you have a history of frequent heart palpitations alongside coronary artery disease or heart disease, you may want to limit your consumption of red meat and opt for lean protein sources instead.
Processed snack foods, such as chips, microwavable meals, and candy, are often high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. These factors make them a poor choice for overall heart health, which means you may want to avoid them if you are experiencing frequent heart palpitations.
Opting for a diet that incorporates more whole foods and limits added sugar, salt, and fats can benefit your overall heart health, which may be helpful if you experience frequent palpitations.
Some forms of alcohol, like beer, contain a significant portion of carbohydrates, which can increase your glycemic load and blood sugar — which isn’t ideal for someone with heart palpitations. Many alcoholic beverages also contain a molecule known as tyramine, also found in aged cheese, that can cause high blood pressure and may lead to heart palpitations.
Alcohol itself can also exacerbate heart palpitations, as it acts as a diuretic. Consuming too much of a diuretic substance can lead to dehydration if you are not drinking enough fluids to replenish water loss.
Sugar, carbonation, and caffeine are a part of many mainstream sodas. Because of the high caffeine and sugar content, you may want to limit them if you are trying to support your heart.
Not all sodas are high in sugar and caffeine, and there are plenty of heart-healthy carbonated flavored beverages that you can enjoy guilt-free. Take the time to find some alternatives — your heart will thank you for it.
Packaged baked goods, such as cakes, cookies, and pastries, are often high in sugar and saturated fats. When consumed sparingly, these desserts and treats don’t pose much of a problem. However, if you eat them regularly, they can contribute to high cholesterol and elevated blood sugar.
If you have a sweet tooth, it can be difficult to resist the temptation. Instead, try switching to healthier alternatives like fruit, which contain nutrients like vitamins and fiber in addition to natural sugar.
Processed deli meats, such as ham, bacon, and sausage, are often high in salt and unhealthy fats that can raise bad cholesterol. These kinds of meats can be detrimental to your heart health if consumed on a regular basis.
Rather than choosing highly processed deli meats, you can opt for leaner, less processed options such as shredded turkey, shredded chicken, or low-sodium canned tuna.
Whether you currently have heart problems or simply want to bolster your heart health, there are some specific diet changes you can make to support your cardiovascular system. Eating a balanced diet and even taking effective dietary supplements can help support your overall wellness.
Below is a closer look at some of the ways you can support your heart health through your diet and lifestyle.
Salt is a commonly utilized ingredient that plays an important role in fluid regulation in the body. However, consuming too much salt can contribute to hypertension, which can lead to wear and tear on the heart and cardiovascular system.
Experts recommend that people shoot for less than 1,500 mg of salt per day to help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
Making lasting lifestyle changes, such as pivoting to a heart-healthy diet, can be difficult. Luckily, there are professionals that can help you initiate and stick to these changes.
Programs like cardiac rehab are wonderful resources for those looking to improve their cardiovascular health through lifestyle modification. A typical program can include education on nutrition and other health topics, as well as a monitored exercise program to foster a stronger and more resilient cardiovascular system.
Carda Health is a virtual cardiac rehab provider that offers all of these services from the comfort of your own home. With the convenience of a virtual program, you can focus more on supporting your heart health and making these lifestyle changes life-long habits.
Heart palpitations are something that many people experience, and one potential culprit behind these palpitations could be diet. Limiting your consumption of things like caffeine, spicy foods, red meat, processed foods, alcohol, soda, baked goods, and deli meat may help to reduce the frequency of heart palpitations.
Heart palpitations can be disconcerting, but they are typically not a cause for concern when they occur sporadically. When they occur more frequently, it may indicate an underlying condition such as an abnormal heart rhythm, irregular heartbeat, or other condition affecting the heart.
If a heart palpitation makes you feel uneasy, the best thing you can do is get a professional opinion from your healthcare provider or cardiologist.