Processed Foods and Warfarin

Publication Date: 
Mon, 12/01/2014
By: Alere Staff

There has been a major effort to improve our understanding of what goes into the food we eat. Products labeled with things like whole grain, less sugar and more fiber are all efforts to help us eat more healthy food. At the end of the day, though, we still don’t always know for sure. Take, for example, the idea of “processed foods.” What does that really mean?

Most food is processed before it reaches the dinner table as even the apples you find at your local grocery have gone through some handling since they were picked from the tree. An additional question you may be wondering is if some of the processed food you eat is responsible for INR blood tests that are out of range.

What is “Processed” Food?

First, we need to understand what makes a food considered “processed.” As you may have guessed, most food is processed. “Processed” food can mean picking fruits, vegetables, nuts and meat at their prime freshness. This type is called “minimally processed.”

The most processed foods are pre-made foods such as pizza and microwave dinners. In the process of making such foods, ingredients like spices, sweeteners, coloring agents and additional nutrients are added. This is where you, as a patient taking warfarin, may be affected.

Not all processing is bad. In fact, the addition of vitamins and minerals to “fortify” a product may make it a better food for certain diets. If the addition includes vitamins such as vitamin K, as in some dietary supplements, you as a warfarin patient, need to know. Reading food labels may help, but they do not have to include vitamin K and often do not.

There are too many foods and too little time to know what is inside everything you eat. The best you can do is eat foods you know to be healthy in a consistent manner and check your INR regularly.

References:

  1. Denny, S. (2014). Avoiding Processed Foods? Surprise! This Is Processed Too. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Retrieved November 21, 2014, from It’s About Eating Right Web site: http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442471055