How to Maintain a Healthy Diet after a Heart Attack

Life goes on, and so it does after a heart attack. As a friend once put it, it’s like sitting on a chair that has one leg broken; you know you can’t afford to lose balance, or you’ll fall. Life after heart attack also needs to be more balanced. Lifestyle changes—quitting alcohol and tobacco, walking, improving sleeping habits, and making dietary changes, among others—are essential if you don’t want to suffer a repeat heart attack. A healthy diet and lifestyle changes will speed up a full recovery and return to everyday activities.

Life after a Heart Attack

The person having a heart attack should be rushed to the hospital and treated promptly in order to minimise damage to the heart. Sometimes, the treatment may necessitate a bypass or an angioplasty. At others, the patient may recover just through medication and care. Nonetheless, being hit with a heart attack is a traumatic experience for anyone. Getting discharged from the hospital and going home can be frightening. It is the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make the patient feel at ease and recommend a detailed follow up plan for home healthcare.

If you or one of your family members just got home from the hospital after a heart attack, take heart. Coronary Artery Disease is the most common chronic disease in the UK. Millions are people are living normal lives after suffering an attack, just by making some small changes to the way they used to live. Continuing with smoking and drinking will get you readmitted to a hospital through the shortest route; and each step that you walk takes you away from a second attack.

A Heart-Healthy Diet

A heart healthy diet is essential for averting a second heart attack and preventing a number of complications. If you are not sure about what you should or shouldn’t eat in your post-heart-attack life, you should ask your doctor or consult the dietician. As a general rule, anything that has to do with raising the cholesterol level should be avoided. Heart patients should eat a Mediterranean style diet rich in fruits, veggies, bread, and fish. Red meat should be avoided, as it hardens the arteries.

The NHS recommends eating foods rich in Omega-3, a fatty acid know for lowering cholesterol. However, do not use Canola oil, which is prompted to contain Omega-3, but is actually bio-engineered. Instead, take your supply of Omega-3 from natural sources like fish. Herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, trout, and tuna are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

Here are some more eating guidelines for heart patients:

  • Include lots of fruits in your daily diet

  • Eat more tomatoes, veggies and salads

  • Quite fine-flour products and eat foods rich in fibre, like bran-bread

  • Eat whole grains, nuts and seeds

  • Fish is your best friend after a heart attack

  • Red meat is akin to a red traffic light—Stop!

  • Use cold-pressed oils, such as extra-virgin olive oil or other organic oils instead of butter or cheese

  • Avoid foods rich in fat, salt or sugar. These include fried foodstuffs, confectionery and sweets, processed and packaged food, and most of the times, restaurant food

Heart-Healthy Cooking

Apart from eating the right foods, it is also important to cook it the right way. There’s no point eating a sardine doused in cheese and mustard. Baking, poaching, steaming, stir-frying, and microwave cooking are all heart-healthy cooking methods. Do not use dressings and sauces high in fats and oils. Instead, prepare your own recipes containing yogurt, mint, and other natural ingredients.

About the author:Dr G J McCLean is a health and safety consultant writing for