By Cristen Lindsay RD, CNSC
Changing the way you eat after a heart attack can feel daunting. Learning and adopting a new lifestyle after such a traumatic time is difficult, however necessary to ensure you stay healthy. Here are a few tips to help you work toward a healthier way of living to keep your heart beating strong.
Foods to limit:
Too much sodium may encourage the buildup of fluids around your lungs, increase your blood pressure, and put stress on your heart.
Water and other fluids
Too much fluid after a heart attack can make your heart work harder than it should. It can also cause poor appetite and shortness of breath. Your doctor will let you know how much fluid you need to aim for a day.
After a heart attack, your heart needs lots of rest. Avoid excessive stimulation from caffeine by limiting how much coffee, black tea, and soda you drink.
What are the best foods for your heart?
Adopt a diet rich in lean protein, colorful vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and seeds. This will ensure you’re consuming enough nutrients to keep your body healthy.
- Include more plants into your daily diet. Focus on vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and seeds for the vitamin, mineral, and fiber content.
- Choose healthier fats such as extra virgin olive oil, nuts, and avocado. Avoid fried foods and animal fats.
- Include whole grains. Trade white bread and pasta for whole-wheat, and choose brown rice instead of white. Eat lentils multiple times a week.
- Focus on lean cuts of meat and eliminate processed meats such as sausage and deli meats. Enjoy chicken without the skin.
- Canned foods can still be a good source of nutrients, as long as you choose reduced salt varieties.
- Increase your intake of fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, trout, tuna, and sardines.
What are the worst foods for your heart?
- Avoid highly processed foods such as packaged chips, cookies, and crackers. These foods are generally high in salt and low in nutrients.
- Resist the urge to add salt to food. Take the salt-shaker off of the table. Experiment with other seasonings such as herbs and spices to flavor foods.
- Limit your intake of whole-fat dairy products to avoid excess consumption of saturated fat. Choose low-fat or nonfat yogurts, milk, and cheeses.
- Avoid foods and drinks with excess amounts of sugar, such as sodas, candies, and pastries.