Eating a healthy diet is necessary to improve your heart failure. This often means making changes in your current eating habits. A registered dietitian can provide in-depth personalized nutrition education, tailor these general guidelines to meet your needs, and help you implement a personal action plan.
Here are some basic guidelines that will help you get started:
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump blood effectively to the lungs or the rest of the body.
This can be because the person has developed a weakened heart muscle or because the heart muscle has thickened or stiffened, making it difficult to fill the heart and backing up blood into the lungs.
With heart failure, the weakened heart pumps less blood than usual, causing the kidneys and adrenal glands to produce chemicals that help the body to hold onto salt and water.
Control the salt in your diet. Decreasing the total amount of sodium you consume to no more than 1,500 mg (1.5 grams) per day is one of the most important ways to manage heart failure.
Learn to read food labels. Use the label information on food packages to help you to make the best low-sodium selections.
Eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients you need.
Include high-fiber foods in your diet. Fiber is the indigestible part of plant food that helps move food along the digestive tract, controls blood sugar levels, and may reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood. Vegetables, beans (legumes), whole-grain foods, bran, and fresh fruit are high in fiber. The goal for everyone is to consume 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day.
Carefully follow your fluid management guidelines. Reduce your fluid intake if you have become more short of breath or notice swelling.
Maintain a healthy body weight. This includes losing weight if you are overweight. Limit your total daily calories and exercise regularly to achieve or maintain your ideal body weight.
Reduce alcohol consumption. Because alcohol can affect your heart rate and worsen your heart failure, your doctor may tell you to avoid or limit alcoholic beverages. Alcohol may also interact with the medications you are taking. Ask your doctor for specific guidelines regarding alcohol.
Nutrition labels and an ingredient list are required on most foods so you can make the best selection for a healthy lifestyle.
If you have trouble reading the food label, make an appointment to meet with a registered dietitian. He or she can review the label with you and help clear up any confusion.