30 Foods To Eat and Avoid When Taking Sertraline (Zoloft)

When taking medications, it is important to understand how they interact with certain foods and other substances that you consume. 

This is because some combinations can change the efficacy of a drug or cause you to experience unwanted side effects. 

When it comes to sertraline, these food-drug interactions can be a serious problem. 

If you’re on sertraline and you’re wondering what dietary changes you should make to avoid food-drug interactions, this article is for you. 

Read on to learn more about what foods you should avoid when taking sertraline (Zoloft), which foods you should eat, and much more. 

10 foods to avoid when taking Sertraline (Zoloft)

Certain beverages and foods can interact with sertraline (Zoloft) and increase your chances of experiencing side effects or reduce the efficacy of the medication. 

Some of the foods to avoid when taking sertraline include: 

1) Grapefruit and grapefruit juice

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice contain certain compounds that reduce the action of enzymes in the body meant to break down sertraline. 

As such, if you eat grapefruit or drink the juice while taking sertraline, the concentration of the drug in your body would be maintained at a high level. This increases the risk of you experiencing unwanted side effects. 

2-6) High-tyramine foods

When taken with sertraline, foods that are high in tyramine could increase the risk of serotonin syndrome. 

Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, loss of coordination, overactive reflexes, increased body temperature, fast heartbeat, and high blood pressure. 

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience these symptoms while taking sertraline. 

Some examples of high-tyramine foods include:

  • Soy sauce
  • Cured meat
  • Sauerkraut
  • Aged cheeses
  • Some varieties of wines and beers

It is best to limit the consumption of these foods and drinks or avoid them altogether when taking sertraline.

7-9) Certain herbs and supplements

Some herbs and supplements may reduce the effectiveness of sertraline or increase the chances of experiencing side effects. Some of them include kava, St John’s wort, and valerian.

Let your doctor and/or pharmacist know about all medications and supplements you are taking.

10) Green tea

Consuming green tea while taking sertraline can cause side effects like a burning sensation in the skin, rash, itching, and more. So, it is best to avoid green tea while taking this drug. 

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Should you avoid alcohol while taking Sertraline?

For sertraline to work effectively, it is best to avoid foods and beverages that contain alcohol. This is because alcohol can increase the risk of side effects like dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion. 

It is very important to talk with your doctor or psychiatrist if you intend to consume alcohol while taking sertraline. 

Do caffeine and Sertraline interact?

Caffeine can interact with certain types of antidepressants (tricyclic antidepressants or TCAs) because both chemicals are metabolized by the same enzyme in the body.  

Sertraline is an SSRI, and there is currently no concrete information on how caffeine interacts with sertraline specifically. 

While both sertraline and caffeine are metabolized within the same enzyme system, they are acted upon by two entirely different enzymes. 

But even though there aren’t any known direct interactions, we need to consider the effects of caffeine on the mental health problems that sertraline is supposed to treat (mainly depression and anxiety). 

Studies have shown that the consumption of coffee by some people suffering from depression and anxiety can worsen sleep problems and increase their anxiety. 

20 foods to eat while on Sertraline

Some studies in animals have shown an association between long-term use of sertraline and blockage of arteries around the heart. This problem is, however, not associated with an increase in cholesterol levels. 

One key finding in a particular study was a reduction in adiponectin, a hormone produced by adipose tissue. 

Adiponectin contributes to heart health in various ways e.g., decreasing inflammation, preventing tissue destruction by toxic radicals, preventing cell death, and dilating blood vessels. Therefore, a decrease in adiponectin can lead to arterial blockage. 

Considering that heart disease is a leading cause of death globally, it would be beneficial for you to make dietary changes that support your heart’s health while taking sertraline.  

One way you can do this is by adopting and maintaining a Mediterranean diet, as it is associated with high levels of adiponectin. 

Specific foods that are great for improving heart health and increasing your adiponectin levels include:

  • Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like olive oil, nuts, avocados, and fatty fish. These can increase your adiponectin levels by approximately 14 to 16%
  • Fiber-rich foods like beans, chai seeds, broccoli, and spinach. These can increase adiponectin levels by as much as 60 to 115%
  • Foods that have a low glycemic index. These include vegetables like broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, and eggplant; fruits like strawberries, pears, apples, and lemons; legumes like chickpeas and dried beans; and nuts like peanuts and cashews. 

Foods to avoidFoods to eat
Grapefruit and grapefruit juiceOmega-3 foods
High-tyramine foodsFiber-rich foods
Certain supplements and herbsFoods with a low glycemic index

Should you take Sertraline with food?

Sertraline is a relatively safe medication and can be taken with or without food. However, if you take sertraline with food, it may help to improve the absorption of the drug and also help reduce the risk of gastrointestinal side effects. 

In addition, taking sertraline after meals helps some people remember to take the medication on time. 

Doctors usually recommend that people take the same dose of sertraline once a day and at the same time every day. 

Sertraline has different effects on people. For example, those who take the drug at bedtime may do so because the drug makes them feel tired and sleepy. And those who take it in the morning may do so because the drug makes them feel energized. 

Whichever way you decide to take sertraline, please be sure to discuss it with your doctor or pharmacist first. 

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Adverse effects of Sertraline to be aware of

Sertraline is part of a group of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and it works by increasing the amount and activity of serotonin

Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that helps to improve mood. It is sold under the brand name Zoloft. 

You can only acquire sertraline with a doctor’s prescription. It is used to treat conditions like depression, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety disorder (SAD). 

Off-label, sertraline is used to treat other health conditions like fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, bulimia nervosa, and irritable bowel syndrome

Sertraline comes in two forms – as a tablet and as a liquid. The oral tablet is oblong or oval-shaped and comes in different colors based on the dosage: Light green for the 25mg tablet, light blue for the 50mg tablet, and light yellow for the 100mg tablet.

Sertraline also comes in a colorless liquid form which is taken by mouth. It comes in 60ml bottles and included in it is a calibrated medicine dropper with gradation marks at 25mls and 50mls. 

It is very potent and, for easy consumption, it first needs to be diluted with specific liquids. 

Potential side effects of sertraline include:

Some dangerous side effects you should be aware of and contact your doctor immediately after you notice them include: 

  • Convulsions
  • Strange bleeding or bruising
  • Symptoms of serotonin syndrome (listed earlier in the article)
  • Symptoms of low blood sodium: headache, confusion, drowsiness, problems with memory.
  • Signs of an allergic reaction: rash, hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue, and trouble breathing. 


Paying attention to the types of food you eat while taking sertraline is essential to ensure its efficacy and reduce the risk of unwanted side effects. 

You should avoid caffeinated beverages, alcohol, grapefruit, grapefruit juice, and certain supplements when taking sertraline. 

Also, adopting a diet that improves adiponectin levels may be beneficial for improved heart health while on this medication. 

It is best to consult your doctor if you need further information or clarification on the right dietary choices to make while taking sertraline.

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  1. Bertasi RAO, Humeda Y, Bertasi TGO, Zins Z, Kimsey J, Pujalte G. Caffeine Intake and Mental Health in College Students. Cureus. 2021.
  2. Shively CA, Register TC, Appt SE, Clarkson TB. Effects of long-term sertraline treatment and depression on coronary artery atherosclerosis in premenopausal female primates. Psychosom Med. 2015.
  3. Green tea and Zoloft drug interactions – a phase IV clinical study of FDA data.
  4. Ebrahimi-Mamaeghani M, Mohammadi S, Arefhosseini SR, Fallah P, Bazi Z. Adiponectin as a potential biomarker of vascular disease. Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2015.
  5. Mc Namara K, Alzubaidi H, Jackson JK. Cardiovascular disease as a leading cause of death: how are pharmacists getting involved? Integr Pharm Res Pract. 2019,
  6. Izadi V, Azadbakht L. Specific dietary patterns and concentrations of adiponectin. J Res Med Sci. 2015.
  7. Silva FM, de Almeida JC, Feoli AM. Effect of diet on adiponectin levels in blood. Nutr Rev. 2011.

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