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Foods To Avoid When Taking Sertraline: The Need-to-Know List

By David Mercer

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This article was created after thorough research and has been improved with the assistance of AI technology. Furthermore, our dedicated editorial team has meticulously fact-checked and polished its content for accuracy and clarity.

Many people may not realize that the foods they eat can interact with their medication, potentially altering its efficacy or causing unwanted side effects. This is particularly true for sertraline, as some foods can interfere with how the body processes and utilizes the drug. By being aware of these food interactions, individuals taking sertraline can make informed choices about their diet and lifestyle to ensure they’re getting the most out of their treatment.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of sertraline and nutrition, exploring the specific foods to avoid when taking this medication. We’ll examine why certain food interactions occur, how they can impact your mental health journey, and what steps you can take to navigate your diet while on sertraline.

Whether you’re new to sertraline or have been taking it for some time, this information will empower you to make choices that support your well-being and optimize your treatment outcomes. So, let’s embark on this journey together and discover how you can nourish both your body and mind while taking sertraline.

Key takeaways:

Avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice – can increase sertraline levels and risk of side effects.
Avoid aged/fermented foods like aged cheeses, cured meats, and soy sauce – can dangerously raise blood pressure.
Limit alcohol – can reduce sertraline’s effectiveness and worsen depression/anxiety.

What Is Sertraline?

What Is Sertraline?

Sertraline is a prescription medication used to treat various mental health conditions, primarily depression and anxiety disorders. It is a member of the medication class known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Here are some key points about sertraline:

  • Mechanism of Action: Sertraline works by increasing the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in regulating mood, emotions, and sleep. It does this by blocking the reuptake of serotonin by the neurons, making more serotonin available in the brain.
  • Medical Uses: Sertraline is most commonly prescribed for major depressive disorder (MDD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
  • Brand Name: Sertraline is sold under the brand name Zoloft, among others.
  • Dosage: Sertraline is available in tablet form, typically prescribed in doses ranging from 25mg to 200mg per day, depending on the condition being treated and individual patient factors.
  • Side Effects: Common side effects of sertraline include nausea, diarrhea, dry mouth, insomnia, dizziness, fatigue, and sexual dysfunction. Most side effects are mild and tend to subside with continued use.
  • Precautions: Sertraline may not be suitable for everyone. It can interact with other medications, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and may cause adverse effects in people with certain medical conditions, such as liver disease or bipolar disorder.

As with any prescription medication, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine if sertraline is the right choice for an individual’s specific needs and medical history.

Foods To Avoid When Taking Sertraline

Sertraline, also known by its brand name Zoloft, is a commonly prescribed antidepressant that belongs to the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). While sertraline is generally well-tolerated, it’s essential to be mindful of potential sertraline interactions with certain foods. Let’s dive into the foods to avoid when taking sertraline.


One of the key foods to avoid when taking sertraline is grapefruit and grapefruit juice. Grapefruit contains compounds that can interfere with the enzymes responsible for breaking down sertraline in the body. This food interaction can lead to increased levels of sertraline in your system, potentially enhancing side effects or even causing toxicity. It’s best to steer clear of grapefruit altogether while on this medication.

Fermented and Aged Foods

Another group of foods to be cautious of when taking sertraline is fermented or aged products. These include aged cheeses, cured meats, sauerkraut, and soy sauce. These foods contain high levels of tyramine, an amino acid that can interact with sertraline and cause a sudden increase in blood pressure. This sertraline interaction, known as a hypertensive crisis, can be dangerous if left untreated.


Alcohol is another substance that should be limited or avoided when taking sertraline. While it may be tempting to reach for a drink to cope with symptoms of depression or anxiety, alcohol can worsen these conditions and interact negatively with sertraline. Alcohol is a depressant and can counteract the benefits of the medication, leading to increased feelings of sadness, fatigue, and impaired judgment.

Maintaining a Balanced Diet

In addition to being mindful of specific foods to avoid, it’s important to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet while taking sertraline. Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can support overall mental and physical well-being. Staying hydrated and limiting caffeine intake can also help manage potential side effects of the medication.

If you have any concerns about specific food interactions or dietary restrictions while taking sertraline, don’t hesitate to consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian. Experienced professionals can provide more personalized guidance based on your individual needs and medical history.

Also Read: Food That Kills Testosterone: Avoid These 6 Libido-Lowering Foods


Sertraline medication can be effective in managing the symptoms of depression and anxiety, but it’s crucial to be aware of potential food interactions. By understanding the foods to avoid when taking sertraline, such as grapefruit, aged products, and alcohol, you can minimize the risk of adverse effects and ensure optimal treatment outcomes. Remember, everyone’s body reacts differently to medications and food interactions, so it’s essential to listen to your body and work closely with your healthcare team.

By making informed choices about the foods eat and maintaining a balanced diet, you can support your mental health journey while taking sertraline. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor, or dietician for guidance and support along the way.

So, have you ever experienced any food interactions while taking sertraline or other medications? 


What fruits to avoid on Zoloft?

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice should be avoided as they can increase Zoloft levels in the blood.

Does coffee interfere with sertraline?

Coffee is generally okay in moderation, but excessive caffeine can potentially worsen side effects like jitters/insomnia.

Why should you not take sertraline at night?

It’s better to take it in the morning as sertraline can cause insomnia/sleeplessness if taken too close to bedtime.

What supplements cannot be taken with sertraline?

St. John’s wort, SAM-e, and tryptophan should be avoided as they can negatively interact and impact sertraline’s effectiveness.


  • Hobgood CD, Clayton AH. Sertraline in the treatment of panic disorder. Drugs Today (Barc). 2009 May;45(5):351-61. [PubMed]
  • Grapefruit juice alters plasma sertraline levels after a single ingestion of sertraline in healthy volunteers. Ueda N, Yoshimura R, Umene-Nakano W, Ikenouchi-Sugita A, Hori H, Hayashi K, Kodama Y, Nakamura J.World J Biol Psychiatry. 2009;10(4 Pt 3):832-5. doi: 10.1080/15622970802688069.PMID: 19172438

David Mercer

Dr. David Mercer is a board-certified physician in internal medicine and general practice. He has over 20 years of experience working in hospital settings, clinics, and private practice providing comprehensive care to patients.

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