Recovering from a heart attack can be difficult for you and your loved ones. Most people who have had heart attacks know that they need to make some changes to their diet, but are unsure about what choices are considered “heart-smart.”
Most diets focused around heart attack recovery will follow several basic rules:
- Healthy fats: Fats are a necessary part of your diet, but the right ones must be chosen. Avoid saturated and trans fats, and stick to the healthier kinds found in olive oil, canola oil, avocado or nuts. Restriction of fat intake to less than 10% of total calories is recommended in prevention and reversal programs.
- Whole grains: The process of refining grains into white breads strips the majority of the nutrients from it. Stick to 100 percent whole grain bread, brown rice, oatmeal and quinoa.
- Fruits and vegetables: It was true before your heart attack, and it’s true now: nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables provide the vitamins and minerals your body needs to repair itself. If you eat canned fruits and vegetables, try to choose options that are low in sodium.
- Low sodium: A common goal for heart attack patients is to control sodium intake. Excess sodium puts strain on your cardiovascular system and contributes to heart disease. Limit your sodium intake by reducing the amount of processed foods in your diet.
Besides the specific foods you choose, there are a few other considerations to keep in mind when making heart healthy diet choices. Controlling your portion size is important, as excess calorie intake can contribute to obesity and heart disease. And finally, ensuring that you get a good balance of nutrients will help your heart as well. This means a diet with balanced amounts of protein, fats and carbohydrates to make sure your body has the support it needs.