Nutrition for Heart Disease: What Foods to Eat for a Healthier Heart

Ultimate Guide to Nutrition for Heart Disease
Nutrition
Written By:
Gena
Pierce
MS
RD
LD

Has your doctor recently told you that you have Heart Disease?

Or has someone you love been diagnosed with Heart Disease? The foods you eat can make a very big impact on heart health, along with other lifestyle choices. Getting the right nutrition for heart disease doesn’t just improve your overall health, it can also result in a higher quality of life in your day-to-day. With that in mind, remember to give yourself time to implement new habits. It is ok to make mistakes! Check out these nutrition tips from our registered dietitians for healthy eating for heart disease:

Adding in fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, and whole grains can be a great place to start.

When it comes to getting the best nutrition for heart disease, you simply can’t go wrong with soluble fiber. By adding in fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, and more whole grains, you will increase soluble fiber. This can help improve your cholesterol, a significant marker for heart health.

All fruits, vegetables, beans, and legumes contain fiber, so eating a variety is recommended to get all the necessary nutrition for heart disease patients. When choosing breads, crackers, pasta, etc., look for whole grain varieties that still contain the naturally occurring fiber. Ingredient lists can be helpful to locate “whole wheat” hopefully as the first ingredient.

Lean proteins and low fat dairy products are a great addition to your diet as well.

In general, if you’re making a meal plan that incorporates nutrition for heart disease, avoid saturated fats when possible. Saturated fats can contribute to cardiovascular disease. Choosing lean protein more often will benefit your goals and provide you with an easy, delicious way to consume lots of the nutrition for heart disease must-haves (including high-protein, low-fat, and low-cholesterol levels!). Poultry without the skin is a smart choice and you can always cook with skin on, just remove at meal time.

Fatty fish such as wild salmon, mackerel, and sardines offer Omega-3 fats, a beneficial, heart healthy fat. You may have heard that red meat isn’t great nutrition for heart disease. However, beef and pork can be enjoyed — just ensure to select cuts with key words like loin and round. Reduced-fat and fat-free dairy products like Greek yogurt and milk also provide less saturated fat than the original form.

Sodium or salt intake is something most people need to reduce.

This one probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but salt is not considered good nutrition for heart disease. While sodium is a required nutrient, most people have a high intake. Too much sodium can raise blood pressure, which is a concern with heart health. So, a slow reduction of sodium is recommended. Salt is an acquired taste. The more salt you use, the more your taste buds desire. So when cutting back, your taste buds get ANGRY! The good news - over time (6-8 weeks!) - your taste buds will adjust.

It’s important for heart disease patients to have total control over how much sodium they consume. Try to start with putting the salt shaker in the cabinet, out of sight. Then, transition to label reading and looking for reduced and low sodium labeled items. Feel free to swap salt with herbs and spices along with citrus juices and vinegars for added flavor.

If you are interested in more information about how to incorporate daily nutrition for heart disease or desire custom guidance for your dietary needs, our team of dietitians would love to assist you!