Here is some information to help you start or continue following your heart failure diet.
Planning what you eat and balancing your meals are important ways to manage your health. Eating healthy often means making changes in your current eating habits. A registered dietitian can provide in-depth personalized nutrition education, tailor these general guidelines to meet your needs, and help you begin a personal action plan. There is excellent evidence to suggest that a daily sodium restriction to 1500 milligrams may benefit patients with cardiovascular risks including heart failure, hypertension, African-American ethnicity, and all middle aged and older adults. Here are some basic guidelines:
- Control the sodium in your diet. Decreasing the total amount of sodium you consume to 1,500 mg per day is one of the most important ways to manage heart failure.
- Learn to read food labels. Use the label information on food packages to help you to make the best low-sodium selections.
- Include high-fiber foods such as vegetables, cooked dried peas and beans (legumes), whole-grain foods, bran, cereals, pasta, rice and fresh fruit. Fiber is the indigestible part of plant food that helps move food along the digestive tract, better controls blood glucose levels and may reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood. Foods high in fiber include natural antioxidants, which reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The goal for everyone is to consume 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day
- Carefully follow your fluid management guidelines. Reduce your fluid intake if you have advanced heart failure or if you become more short of breath or notice swelling. General rule: limit fluids to 8 cups or less per day (which is equal to 2 liters or less or 64 ounces or less), even if you feel thirsty. If you sweat a lot with vigorous exercise, you may need to drink one cup of extra fluid. Your health care provider will give you specific fluid guidelines that may be more or less than 64 ounces per day.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. This includes losing weight if you are overweight. Limit your total daily calories, follow a low-fat diet and exercise regularly to achieve and maintain your ideal body weight.
- read the labels in the grocery store – there’s a wealth of information on the nutrients that you need to know.
- don’t have any meats from the deli – these have too much sodium as it is used as a preservative; have the meat cut at the grocery store instead.
- don’t buy any frozen meats – these also have too much sodium; buy the meat fresh and freeze it at home.
- eat as close to nature as possible – avoid processed foods
- be careful of no sodium, low sodium & reduced sodium labels - for you, they're wrong.
- be careful of all sauces – they tend to be high in sodium
- avoid commercial & restaurant soups especially in cans – their sodium is much too high.
- most breads have unacceptable amounts of sodium – weight-watchers bread is the best
- avoid all pizza and most fast foods as they have too much sodium for you.
- some salt substitutes have other ingredients that are not good for you – ask your health care professional about which ones would fit your new diet.
- flavour your foods with substitutes like Mrs. Dash, lemon juice, & herbs
- beware of heart-friendly recipes and menu items – often they aren’t
- know your restaurants and pre-plan what you will order (I will cover this topic in detail in a later post).
- search for reduced sodium offerings from food manufacturers - they do exist.
Guidelines for Reducing Sodium
- Use fresh ingredients and/or foods with no salt added.
- Eat foods as close as possible to the way nature made them.
- For favorite recipes, you may need to use other ingredients and delete or decrease the salt added. Salt can be removed from any recipe except from those containing yeast.
- Try orange or pineapple juice as a base for meat marinades.
- Avoid convenience foods such as canned soups, entrees, vegetables, pasta and rice mixes, frozen dinners, instant cereal and puddings and gravy sauce mixes - it's difficult for you to find out what really is in them.
- Select frozen entrees that contain 400 mg or less of sodium. However, limit to one of these frozen entrees per day. Check the Nutrition Facts label on the package for sodium content.
- Use fresh, frozen, no added salt canned vegetables, or canned vegetables that have been rinsed before they are prepared.
- Low sodium canned soups may be used.
- Avoid mixed seasonings and spice blends that include salt, such as garlic salt