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Harnett County,
North Carolina

Cooperative Extension 

Can fruits and/or vegetables have adverse interactions with medications?


Question Can fruits and/or vegetables have adverse interactions with medications?

Answer Our entire lives we are taught that fruits and vegetables are good for us. While this is true, there are times we need to avoid certain “health” foods. Some medications negatively interact with specific foods. Symptoms of these interactions can include confusion, depression, fatigue, agitation, anxiety and/or decreased sexual behavior. These symptoms may not be easily distinguished from a person’s normal behavior.

Foods can speed up, slow down or nullify the action of a medication. Nutrient absorption and appetite can also be changed by certain food-drug interactions. Ironically, some medications require food when taken.

Specific foods like grapefruit, sauerkraut, orange juice, leafy greens, oatmeal and overly ripe avocados can cause problems when mixed with specific medications. General categories like “high fiber” foods can also affect specific drugs.

People taking 3 or more medications for chronic conditions should really be on the lookout for possible interactions. Older adults usually take more medications than younger adults and children. Therefore, older adults are more likely to know about food-drug interactions. Hopefully, they will share their knowledge with the unsuspecting younger generations.

The impact of a food-drug interaction depends on several factors which include the dosage of the drug, amount of food, person’s statistics (age, size, and health), and how close together the two were taken (5 minutes apart versus 2 hours apart).

Obviously, the solution to avoiding negative scenarios is education. Know your medications and let your doctor know your eating habits. Avoiding certain foods may not be the answer. Simply adjusting the timing of your intake may do the trick. Consult your doctor and/or pharmacist for specific questions.

For more info on food-drug interactions, visit

or To look up specific drugs, check out this website If you do not have internet access, call us at 910-893-7533 or email me at

Every food-drug website has alcohol listed in the warnings for food and medication interactions. Alcohol alone can cause confusion, depression, fatigue, agitation and anxiousness. I guess the addition of medication kicks in the decreased sexual behavior. My question is “Where does alcohol fall on the food pyramid?”

Gary L. Pierce

Horticulture Extension Agent

Harnett County

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