There are two common food ingredients that can cause heart palpitations in some people.
But this doesn’t mean that everyone’s skipped heartbeat is caused by these ingredients.
Other factors can be at play (like anxiety), but at least you can see if your “skipped” heartbeats or palpitations disappear or reduce in frequency by cutting out these two food ingredients.
They are caffeine and aspartame.
Caffeine and Heart Palpitations
“Caffeine often causes palpitations,” says Glenn Meininger, MD, Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology Services for the Baltimore region of the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute.
Dr. Meininger says there are two mechanisms through which this happens.
“It is a stimulant, blocking the effects of adenosine and impacting the autonomic nervous system, and it can increase blood flow to the kidneys with excess fluid loss and dehydration (diuretic effect).”
Coffee, tea, soda and chocolate are the leading caffeine-containing items, but some dessert type foods and snacks may also contain this stimulant.
If you’re drinking at least three cups of caffeinated coffee a day, for instance, this may be causing or contributing to your “skipped” or “extra” beats.
The American Medical Association Complete Guide to Men’s Health recommends gradually knocking down your coffee consumption. A cold-turkey cessation may cause headaches.
If during your jumpy heartbeats you do not experience any other symptoms, you’re most likely not having a panic attack.
There are isolated cases in which caffeine can trigger a panic attack, and panic attacks include heart palpitations.
However, panic attacks also typically come with a feeling that you can’t breathe in enough air, a sense that death is imminent or that something awful is about to happen.
Additional Causes of Heart Palpitations
Not Food Related
• Strong emotional responses
• Strenuous exercise
• Hormonal changes from menstruation or menopause
• Cough and cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine (a stimulant)
Aspartame and Palpitations
This artificial sweetener should be removed from your diet altogether. It has no virtues and is highly controversial.
Aspartame can cause a variety of side effects including heart palpitations, according to a paper in The Internet Journal of Health (2008 Volume 9 Number 1).
Eliminate ingestion of aspartame and see what happens.
This chemical is in all sorts of items. Read the ingredients lists of your energy bars, breakfast bars, protein powder, any low carb item that normally has a lot of carbs, and anything labeled “sugar free.”
So those are two food ingredients that may be causing or contributing to your heart palpitations. Your best bet, however, is to have an examination by a cardiologist.
Request an echocardiogram which will reveal the function and structure of your heart. And remember, anxiety is notorious for causing heart palpitations.
Dr. Meininger is board certified in cardiac electrophysiology, cardiovascular disease and internal medicine and is widely regarded as an expert in the use of multiple modalities to treat cardiac arrhythmias.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.