For someone with heart disease, diet is a big deal. Well. the truth is, our diets are a big deal for all of us. But when one is suffering from heart disease, diet plays an even bigger role in quality of life. Along with other healthy habits, proper diet, recommended by a medical professional for your specific condition, can slow or even partially reverse the narrowing of the heart‘s arteries and help prevent further complications.
The best strategy: Focus on what the person with heart disease can eat, not just what’s off-limits. Research shows that adding heart-saving foods is just as important as cutting back on others.
These nine basic strategies will help you plan meals for someone with heart disease:
- Serve more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Just about everyone could stand to eat more plant-based foods. They’re rich in fiber and other nutrients, and they can taste great in a salad, as a side dish, or as an entree. Watch that you don’t use too much fat or cheese when you prepare them.
- Choose fat calories wisely by:
- Limit saturated fat (found in animal products).
- Avoid artificial trans fats as much as possible. Check ingredient lists for “partially hydrogenated” oils.
- When using added fats for cooking or baking, choose oils that are high in monounsaturated fat (for example, olive and peanut oil) or polyunsaturated fat (such as soybean, corn, and sunflower oils).
- Serve a variety of protein-rich foods. Balance meals with lean meat, fish, and vegetable sources of protein.
- Limit cholesterol. Cholesterol in foods, found in red meat and high-fat dairy products, can raise blood cholesterol levels, especially in high-risk people.
- Serve the right kind of carbs. Include foods like brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, and sweet potatoes to add fiber and help control blood sugar levels. Avoid sugary foods.
- Eat regularly. This helps someone with heart disease control blood sugar, burn fat more efficiently, and regulate cholesterol levels.
- Cut back on salt. Too much salt is bad for blood pressure. Instead, use herbs, spices, or condiments to flavor foods.
- Encourage hydration. Staying hydrated makes you feel energetic and eat less. Encourage your loved one to drink 32 to 64 ounces (about 1 to 2 liters) of water daily, unless their doctor has told them to limit fluids.
- Keep serving sizes in check. It can help to use smaller plates and glasses, and to check food labels to see how much is in a serving, since it’s easy to eat more than you think. Some guidelines:
- 1 ounce of cheese is the size of a pair of dice.
- A serving of meat or tofu is the size of a deck of cards.
- 2 servings of rice or pasta are the size of a tennis ball.
The contents of this and other individual articles are based upon the opinions of the author, unless otherwise noted. The information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of health professionals we follow and their respective communities. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.