How Should I Eat if I Have Heart Disease?

How Should I Eat if I Have 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. 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 eating with heat disease:

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

Adding more food to your current diet can be a pleasant surprise. 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. 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.

These foods are lower in saturated fats. Saturated fats can contribute to heart disease. Choosing lean protein more often will benefit your goals. 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. Beef and pork can be enjoyed but 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.

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.

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 or desire custom guidance, our team of dietitians would love to assist you!