Swelling in the legs is caused by a buildup of fluids, and is known as edema. There are many illnesses that can cause edema, and it can also happen if you are standing or sitting for long periods of time, are pregnant, or at certain points in your menstrual cycle.

Here are foods to avoid when you are prone to swelling in the legs:

Salty Foods

Salt is a big factor in edema, and that’s because salt attracts water in the body in an effort to dilute it.

Processed foods like potato chips and French fries are usually very high in salt, as are bacon and many deli meats.

Salt is used to add flavor to cooking, but if you have edema it’s best not to use it. Add flavor with herbs, spices, and lemon juice instead.

Refined Foods

drain-pasta

Refined foods like white bread, pasta, rice, baked goods, energy bars, and flavored yogurts also make your body retain water.

Eat whole foods with no extra sugar, including fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If you eat energy bars, buy ones with as little added sugar as possible, and avoid adding extra sugar to tea or coffee.

Foods That Can Cause Allergies

If you have edema, the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests that you avoid eating any foods that can cause allergies. Celiac disease is caused by an allergy to gluten, and may cause low-protein levels which can cause or worsen edema.

Other foods that commonly cause allergies include nuts, seafood, dairy, eggs, and soy.

Other Foods to Avoid

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, those with edema should avoid eating red meat, and foods made with trans fats, such as cookies, donuts, and margarine.

Foods That Can Help to Reduce Swelling

Foods that are naturally diuretic can help your body to get rid of retained water and reduce swelling.

These foods include asparagus, parsley, beets, grapes, pumpkins, leeks, and onions, but these foods may interfere with the action of diuretic medications, warns the University of Maryland Medical Center.

You should also increase your intake of potassium, which helps to regulate the balance of fluid in the body. Potassium can be found in tomatoes, winter squash, melon, and bananas.

Replace red meats with cold-water fish like salmon and mackerel, as well as beans and tofu (if you are not allergic to soy) as alternative sources of protein.