fruits and vegetables

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.

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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:

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.

About Heart and Vascular Institute

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine. We strive to provide the most advanced, cutting-edge care for our patients, treating both common and complex conditions. We also offer services that seek to improve the health of our communities, including heart screenings, free clinics, and heart health education. Find an expert near you.