Skip to content

Heart Failure Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Diet and Heart Failure

Eating a healthy diet may reduce your symptoms of heart failure. 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:

Recommended Related to Heart Failure

Understanding Heart Failure -- Symptoms

The symptoms of heart failure can be related to the pooling of fluid in the body or can be secondary to decreased blood flow to the body. Some people with heart failure don't experience symptoms, but here are some of the more common signs: Shortness of breath with exercise or difficulty breathing at rest or when lying down Swollen legs, ankles, or abdomen Dry, hacking cough, or wheezing Other symptoms may include: Fatigue, palpitations, or pain during normal activities ...

Read the Understanding Heart Failure -- Symptoms article > >

  • 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.

Food Labels

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.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on May 16, 2014

Today on WebMD

Compressed heart
Article
Salt Shockers
Slideshow
 
Inside A Heart Attack
Slideshow
lowering blood pressure
SLIDESHOW
 

Mechanical Heart
Article
Omega 3 Overview Slideshow
Slideshow
 
Atrial Fibrillation Guide
Slideshow
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Slideshow
 

Compressed heart
Article
FAQ Heart Failure
Article
 
Cholesterol Confusion
Health Check
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Slideshow
 

WebMD Special Sections