What happens if you eat bananas while taking lisinopril?

Lisinopril is a common medication used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. It belongs to a class of drugs called ACE inhibitors. Bananas are a healthy fruit that are high in potassium. Many people wonder if eating bananas can interact with lisinopril treatment.

Can you eat bananas while taking lisinopril?

Yes, you can safely eat bananas while taking lisinopril. Bananas are not known to cause any interactions with lisinopril. In fact, the potassium in bananas may help reduce some of the side effects of this medication.

Lisinopril works by blocking a chemical called angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE). This causes the blood vessels to relax and widen, which lowers blood pressure. Bananas are not believed to affect ACE or interfere with how lisinopril works.

However, lisinopril can cause the potassium levels in your blood to increase. Eating a lot of potassium-rich foods like bananas at the same time may cause potassium to build up too much. This is called hyperkalemia.

Signs of hyperkalemia

Hyperkalemia usually does not cause symptoms unless potassium levels get very high. Possible signs include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Slow or abnormal heart rhythm

Severe hyperkalemia can potentially lead to dangerous heart arrhythmias. However, this is rare when potassium levels increase slightly due to diet.

How much potassium is too much?

Healthy adults should aim to get 4,700 mg of potassium per day from food and beverages. Eating bananas as part of a balanced diet is unlikely to cause problems.

The recommended limits for supplemental potassium are:

  • Adults: Maximum of 100 mEq (3,500 mg) per day from supplements
  • Children: 45 to 60 mEq (1,500 to 2,000 mg) per day from supplements

Consuming more than this amount from supplements may increase the risk of hyperkalemia. But getting potassium from foods like bananas has not been associated with adverse effects for most people.

Should you limit banana intake with lisinopril?

Most people taking lisinopril do not need to restrict bananas or other high-potassium foods. But you may need to be cautious if you:

  • Already have elevated potassium levels
  • Take potassium-sparing diuretics
  • Have kidney disease
  • Use salt substitutes high in potassium

In these situations, limiting high-potassium foods may help prevent blood levels from getting too high. Your doctor can monitor your potassium levels to help guide your diet.

How much potassium is in a banana?

One medium banana contains about 422 mg of potassium. Here’s how the potassium content compares in different sizes:

Banana size Potassium (mg)
Small (6-6 7/8 inches) 291
Medium (7-7 7/8 inches) 422
Large (8-8 7/8 inches) 485

As you can see, larger bananas contain more potassium. Ripe bananas also have a bit more potassium than unripe ones.

Tips for eating bananas on lisinopril

Here are some tips to keep your potassium levels in check while enjoying bananas:

  • Stick to 1 or 2 medium bananas per day
  • Mix banana with other fruits and vegetables to avoid excess potassium
  • Choose smaller or unripe bananas which have less potassium
  • Avoid banana smoothies made with milk, which provide even more potassium
  • Monitor your potassium levels if at risk for hyperkalemia

Foods to limit with lisinopril

Bananas aren’t the only food containing potassium. Other good sources include:

  • Oranges and orange juice
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Beans
  • Dried fruits
  • Avocados
  • Salmon
  • Milk and yogurt

You don’t necessarily need to avoid these foods altogether. But be mindful of portion sizes and aim for balanced intake. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.

When to call your doctor

Contact your healthcare provider if you experience any symptoms of hyperkalemia like muscle weakness or heart palpitations. Routine blood tests can also detect elevated potassium levels before problems occur.

You should also call your doctor if you develop any of these more common side effects of lisinopril:

  • Cough
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea

Your doctor may adjust your dose or switch medications if side effects persist. But a minor cough is often the only downside of an otherwise effective drug.

The bottom line

Most people can safely eat bananas in moderation while taking lisinopril. Hyperkalemia is rare when potassium comes from foods instead of supplements. Simply focus on a healthy diet with a mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and dairy.

Limiting banana intake may be wise if you have kidney disease or other risk factors for high potassium. Otherwise, bananas can be part of a potassium-rich diet that helps control blood pressure with lisinopril.

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