If you or someone you love has recently undergone heart surgery and you are looking for a diet for heart surgery patients, this article will answer some of the questions that you may have.
Proper Diet Foods for Heart Surgery Patients
The recommendations for a diet for heart surgery patients found in this article are not meant to be medical advice, nor are they intended to replace your doctor's instructions. Follow any guidelines that your doctor makes, and always seek medical advice before undergoing any dietary change.
In general, a heart surgery patient's diet is a low sodium, low sugar, low fat diet. If weight loss is at issue, your doctor may also recommend caloric restriction.
Some general tips for a post-heart surgery diet include:
- Select a variety of healthy foods from all four food groups.
- Eat foods that are low in fat and cholesterol.
- Avoid processed foods, which typically have a lot of sodium in them.
- Avoid sugar.
- Eat high-fiber, complex carbohydrate foods.
- Watch portion sizes to control caloric intake.
Avoid High-sodium Foods
One of the most important recommendations your doctor may make for a diet if you are a heart surgery patient is to cut back on sodium. The reason sodium should be restricted post-surgically is that it causes fluid build up in your blood vessels. Your doctor will give you a recommendation for your daily sodium intake following your surgery. Some tips for avoiding sodium include:
- Don't add salt to any of your food.
- Avoid canned soups and broths, which are high in sodium.
- Avoid processed meats such as ham, hot dogs, and bacon, which all have high sodium content.
- Deli meats are usually high in sodium.
- Frozen meals should be avoided.
- Any vegetables prepared in brine (such as pickles and olives) should be avoided. You will also want to avoid canned vegetables or vegetable juices.
- Most salty snacks - such as potato chips and nuts - are extremely high in sodium and should be avoided.
- Along with watching for salt in foods, beware of monosodium glutamate (MSG). It is present in a lot of restaurant foods, particularly Chinese food. Request all food ordered out be prepared without MSG.
- Check with your doctor before using salt substitutes.
Avoid Refined Carbohydrates
Sugars can contribute to the level of triglycerides (blood sugars) in your blood. Eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates and simple sugars can elevate these levels. Avoid sweets, desserts and "white" carbohydrates such as white bread, enriched wheat pasta and white rice.
Avoid Foods High in Cholesterol and Saturated Fat
Cholesterol and saturated fat can lead to build up of plaque and fatty acids in your artery walls. Your doctor may recommend that you avoid these sources of fat. Some general recommendations of what to avoid:
- Organ meats
- Lunch meats
- Egg yolks
- Full fat dairy
- Coconut and palm oil
- Fried foods
- Tub margarine and shortening
Instead, try these foods which are lower in fat and cholesterol:
- Low fat dairy
- White meat poultry
- Olive oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, canola oil
Increase Fiber Intake
Fiber is essential in maintaining healthy cholesterol and elimination. In the period immediately following surgery, you may experience constipation as a result of meditations and a lack of activity. Fiber can be beneficial to helping you through this period. Eating a high-fiber diet confers a number of health benefits. Here are some suggestions for high fiber foods you can eat:
- Whole grain cereals, breads and pastas
- Fresh fruit
- Fresh vegetables
- Flax seeds
If you are overweight, your doctor may recommend that you restrict your caloric intake. Being overweight is associated with high triglycerides, and may also cause a thickening of your blood vessels. Medications or being sedentary post-surgically may also lead to weight gain. As a result, you will want to monitor your caloric intake. Some tips for keeping your calories under control:
- Eat small amounts of food several times a day.
- Snack on fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Carefully control portion sizes.
By working with your doctor and carefully monitoring your food intake, you will be well on your way to health following your heart surgery. .