Don’t Eat This If You’re Taking That: The Hidden Risks of Mixing Food and Medicine

R-H Staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Millions of Americans age 50-plus take prescription drugs, yet few know the health risks of taking them along with certain foods and over-the-counter (OTC) supplements. For instance, some blood thinners taken with everyday foods like spinach, kale, and tomatoes can increase the risk of irregular heartbeat and heart attack.

To address these kinds of food and drug interactions, AARP and Skyhorse Publishing have just released a jointly published revised edition of Don’t Eat This If You’re Taking That: The Hidden Risks of Mixing Food and Medicine.

Written by Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D., and her husband John Fernstrom, Ph.D., Don’t Eat This If You’re Taking That provides a consumer’s guide to understanding how mixing prescription medications with certain foods and supplements can lessen their effectiveness or even cause a serious health problem.

“Most people are surprised to learn that even healthy foods can interfere with the actions of many medicines,” says Madelyn Fernstrom. “Small changes in what you eat can make a big difference in making sure your medications are working the way your doctor intended.”

Some examples of expert advice from Fernstrom:

Avoid eating grapefruit when taking cholesterol medicine.

Steer clear of red wine, hard cheese, and chocolate while on certain antidepressants.

Know which of the many herbal supplements can affect blood pressure.

The revised and thoroughly redesigned edition focuses on which foods to take and which to avoid with the most common prescription drugs. Covering everything from antidepressants to herbal supplements, the book takes the mystery out of food and medication interactions.

The book is divided into eight sections covering the most widely-used medications:


Pain relievers

Blood thinners

Diabetes drugs


Cholesterol drugs

Blood pressure drugs

Heart medicines

“This book will help anybody tackle the complexities of food and medicine interaction,” said Jodi Lipson, Director of AARP Books. “Don’t Take This If You’re Eating That is especially useful for people taking more than one medication.”

Each chapter of the book features a Dietary Supplements Alert box providing up-to-date information on drug interactions with OTC vitamins and minerals.

R-H Staff