Foods that are healthy for heart disease patients

Written by misty rodriguez
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Foods that are healthy for heart disease patients
(Patrick J. Lynch/

If you have been diagnosed with heart disease, it is important you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Making the right food choices can mean the difference between being a survivor and being a statistic. You do not have to follow a boring, restrictive diet to have a healthy heart. You can enjoy many delicious foods and still keep your heart in shape.

The Facts

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. This is largely due to the unhealthy eating habits of Americans. It seems as though healthy eating has got less popular while fatty, deep fried foods have become the norm. Americans are often overloaded with things to do, so they opt for a quick meal instead of taking the time to cook something healthy.

Balanced Diet

There are certain steps you can take to avoid problems if you are suffering from heart disease, such as salt, saturated fat and trans fat. However, it is still important to eat a well-balanced diet. Choose foods from every food group, including fats. The key to a heart healthy diet is moderation. Know when to say when, and do not give into temptation when it comes to overeating.

Beneficial Foods

The American Heart Association has created a list of foods that are beneficial for heart disease patients. Eat any type of fruit, whether fresh, frozen or canned. When choosing vegetables, pick fresh or frozen varieties, but skip the vegetables that come in sauce pouches. If you prefer canned vegetables, make sure they are unsalted or rinse them thoroughly before cooking. In the meat department, enjoy fresh or frozen non-breaded fish, unsalted canned tuna and salmon, skinless chicken and turkey, and lean cuts of veal, pork, beef or lamb. Beneficial foods in the dairy group include low-fat and skimmed milk, cottage cheese, low-fat or part-skim cheese and neufchatel cheese. There are many foods you can eat in the breads, including cereals, grains and starches group. Also acceptable are rice, pasta, starchy vegetables, homemade breads, loaf breads, matzo crackers, Melba toast, pita bread and cooked cereals. Heart healthy oils that should be used by heart disease patients are canola, olive, cottonseed, corn, safflower, peanut, soybean and sunflower oils.

Foods to Avoid

Just as there are beneficial foods for heart disease patients, there are foods to be avoided. Such foods include whole milk, red meats, hydrogenated oils, hot dogs, hamburgers, sugar, deep-fried foods, ice cream, candy, chips, pastries, pies, cookies, processed foods, hard margarine and foods with a high amount of sodium. Be sure to talk to your doctor so she can help you make a meal plan for your particular condition.


Having a healthy heart does not depend entirely on your diet. It is important for you to establish an exercise routine as well. Doctors recommend that you fit 30 to 60 minutes of cardio exercise in most days of the week. Walking, jogging, swimming, bicycling, rowing, rock climbing and handball are all cardio exercises that can help strengthen your heart. Be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin any exercise regimen, as she may want you to start out with moderate-intensity exercises and work your way up to a more rigorous pace.

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