The major nutritional considerations specific to heart failure are fluid and sodium restriction (see sections on Fluid and Sodium Restriction for more details). Other “Heart Healthy” eating habits also apply. Following a balanced diet and keeping a healthy body weight can make a difference to your overall heart health.
Here are some tips that will help you to feel better and reach an ideal body weight:
- Try to limit the amount of snack and fast foods as they may be high in fat and/or salt.
- The best way to work toward healthier eating is to prepare you own food.
- Broil, steam, or bake food as it reduces the fat content.
- Try to eat more fruits and vegetables and less meat products and fried foods.
- Choose fish, poultry and leaner cuts of meat:
- Try to eat at least 2 to 3 servings of fish per week
- Portions should be about the size of one deck of playing cards
- Bake, broil, BBQ or roast meats on a rack, so the fat drips off
- Before cooking, trim off all the fat you can see from the meat, and remove skin from poultry before eating
- Eat breakfast every day.
- Avoid salt:
- Avoid canned food, soups, processed foods and ready-to-eat meals
- Do not add extra salt to your food
- Check food labels and pick foods that are low in saturated and trans fats and sodium (see Section on Sodium Restriction).
- Eat more fibre – soluble fibre slows the rise in blood sugar levels:
- Use whole grain breads and cereals, psyllium and legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas and split peas
- Choose lower fat dairy foods.
- Have less sugar, sweets, and sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Avoid alcohol
Healthy Heart Portion Guide
The amount of food you need depends on your age, gender, body size and activity level. The following guide will help you to choose foods that are low in saturated and trans fat, high in fibre and low in sodium. For more information, speak to your health care provider about a referral to a dietitian. (Click on each tab to find out the serving sizes for the particular type of food)
Fruits & Vegetables
Milk & Alternatives
Fats & Oils
Meat & Alternatives
Take Home Messages
- The main nutritional considerations specific to heart failure are fluid and sodium restriction.
- People with heart failure should follow the Canadian Food Guide. In general, this emphasizes the consumption of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats.
- For more information, speak to your health care provider about a referral to a dietitian.