If you are living with heart failure, it is likely you’ve heard about the importance of eating a balanced, healthy diet many times. It can help to maintain a healthy heart and even improve symptoms.1 But we appreciate this is sometimes easier said than done.
Below are some key tips around three of the most commonly asked about areas in nutrition and heart failure, as well as a link to heart failure-friendly recipes to try at home!
Remember, if you or a family member have been diagnosed with heart failure, it is important to speak to your doctor or nurse before making any changes to your diet.
The body needs salt to function but only a little. Too much salt causes the body to retain too much water, worsening the fluid build-up associated with heart failure.2 Limiting the amount of salt consumed daily (guidelines suggest less than 6g per day, which is the equivalent of about 1 tsp) can help prevent these symptoms.3
Did you know, we get around 75-80% of the salt we eat each day from pre-prepared foods such as ready meals, processed meat, cereals and breads.4,5
Potassium is an important mineral found in many types of food - our heart relies on potassium for maintaining a regular heart rhythm.6 It is important for people with heart failure to be aware of how much potassium is in their diet as different heart failure medications can affect your potassium levels in different ways.6
Speak to your doctor about how your medications may be affecting your potassium levels, and what you can do to keep it within a suitable range.6
If you need to increase your potassium, foods like bananas, oranges, and avocados are naturally excellent sources of potassium.7
If you need to reduce your levels of potassium you can:6
Fiber can be a really good all-rounder for looking after your health. Not only can it help maintain digestive health (tackling constipation), but it can also help to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood which can help look after your health.8
Fiber is a complex carbohydrate and is only found in plants (there is no fiber in meat, fish or animal products like dairy) and so one of the easiest ways you can get enough fiber is to eat plenty of different fruits and vegetables.
3 more quick tips for getting enough fiber:
Before changing your diet, speak to your doctor or nurse as they can help to advise about the right amount of fiber for you (for example people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) may need to be cautious about how much fibre they consume).
For more tips and recipes to try at home, check out these heart-healthy recipes from around the world.
Also, if you have any tips for cooking or eating out with heart failure, including any of your own recipes, be sure to share them with us!