Heart and Vascular Health What’s the Best Diet After Heart Surgery? By Heart and Vascular Institute, February 24, 2016 A healthy diet after heart surgery is crucial to your recovery, and to helps you protect your heart against further problems. Optimal nutrition can help speed healing, so you regain your strength and energy. A good diet can help you control your weight, which is important in maintaining good cardiovascular health. Your doctor or a dietitian can work with you to create a meal plan that’s right for you, but here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when creating a diet after heart surgery. Enjoy Fresh, Whole Foods According to the American Heart Association, your best bet is to choose a variety of: Fruits Vegetables Whole grains Breads Lean meats (including fish) Low-fat dairy products In general, heart patients should follow a low-fat, low-cholesterol, high-fiber diet. Cut the Fat, Salt, and Sugar Limit your consumption of saturated fat, sugar, and salt, and avoid: Processed meats Junk food Fast food Foods like liver and organ meats, eggs, whole milk, butter, cream, whole-milk cheeses, fried foods, and palm oil are high in saturated fat. In addition to luncheon meats, canned soups, canned spaghetti sauce, TV dinners, snack foods, and smoked fish are also high in salt. When choosing a diet after heart surgery, say no to these foods. Address Side Effects It’s not unusual to experience problems like nausea, lack of appetite, and constipation following heart surgery. You may be able to counteract these issues by: Taking medications on a full stomach Drinking plenty of water and other healthy fluids Eating smaller, more frequent meals If you continue to experience such side effects, contact your physician. For more information on heart health, visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute.