List of Foods to Avoid After a Heart Attack


If you’re recovering from a heart attack, it’s important to avoid certain foods that can damage your health. These include saturated fat, salt and sugar.

Having a healthy diet can help you lower your cholesterol and blood pressure and reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Learn more about a heart-healthy eating plan from the UCSF Nutrition Counseling Clinic.

1. Saturated Fat

Saturated fat is a type of fatty acid that can cause a buildup of plaque in your arteries and increase your risk for heart disease. It is found naturally in butter, cheese, red meat and other animal products, tropical oils and fried foods.

Compared to unsaturated fats, saturated fats are more likely to increase your ‘bad’ cholesterol and raise your risk for cardiovascular disease. This is because saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature, which can clog your arteries and increase your risk for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

The American Heart Association recommends that you limit saturated fats to less than 10% of your total daily calories, with an emphasis on foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. It is also recommended that you replace saturated fats with foods high in these healthier fatty acids, such as oily fish, nuts and vegetable oils.

2. Salt

Sodium or salt is a mineral that is naturally occurring in water or as a crystalline solid in rock salt. It is used to flavor foods and preserve them, but excess consumption of it can lead to hypertension and heart disease.

High-sodium content foods include canned soups, spaghetti sauce, canned fish, smoked meats, snack foods and fast food. Avoid them if you have a history of heart problems or are recovering from a heart attack.

Eating a healthy diet, with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein can help you control your sodium intake. Also, choose low-sodium versions of your favorite snacks and meals.

The American Heart Association recommends that you limit your sodium to 1,500 milligrams a day or less. This is far less than the average of 3,400 mg per day that most Americans eat.

3. Sugar

After a heart attack, avoiding the foods listed below may help prevent a second heart attack. This is because a diet high in saturated fat, salt and sugar can make hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) worse.

To avoid sugar, read the labels on foods you buy and choose whole foods like vegetables and fruits, lean meats, low-fat dairy and whole grains. These are more heart-healthy than processed foods.

Eating less of these can also lower your risk for weight gain and diabetes. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 10 percent of your daily calories come from added sugars if you are trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight.

Added sugars are those that appear on ingredient lists and may be called sucrose, corn sweetener, fruit juice concentrates, honey, molasses, malt syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, or words ending in “ose” (dextrose, sucrose, lactose, maltose, or glucose). It is best to eat foods that contain no sugar at all.

4. Cream Sauces

Cream sauces are a staple in many kitchens and restaurants. They can be used to make meat, pasta and even soup dishes.

Although cream sauces are very popular, they can be very fattening. They contain butter and heavy cream, which are both regarded as high in calories.

A good way to reduce the calories in cream sauces is to add egg yolks. This will help thicken the sauce and prevent it from being too rich.

Another great way to lower the fat content of cream sauces is to use low-fat milk. This is a much healthier alternative than full-fat milk and it will also help reduce your saturated fat intake.

As you can see, it is important to eat a healthy diet after a heart attack. This can help you recover faster and reduce your risk of having a second heart attack. In addition to improving your diet, you should also get plenty of rest.

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