Key Points about Heart Nutrition Programs
- Heart nutrition programs are dietary programs that focus on maximizing your cardiovascular health.
- Alongside exercise and medication, adopting a healthy diet may help manage current heart disease and reduce the risk for future heart conditions.
- Heart nutrition programs are also known as the cardiac diet, heart-healthy diet and the DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet.
Candidates for a heart nutrition program
Your doctor may recommend using a heart nutrition program if you have had a heart event, have a current heart condition or have risk factors for developing heart conditions.
Expectations from a heart nutrition program
Committing to eating better for your heart health is a lifestyle change – not just a diet. If you follow a heart nutrition program, you can expect to:
- Avoid red meat, fatty cheeses and processed foods
- Choose low-sodium and low-cholesterol options
- Choose low-fat or no-fat dairy foods
- Eat lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains
- Increase your intake of low-fat proteins, such as skinless poultry and fish
- Choose healthy fats, such as nuts, olive oil and salmon
- Reduce your intake of baked goods, starchy foods, fats and oils
Recovery from a heart nutrition program
If you follow a heart nutrition program, you’ll see short-term and long-term positive effects. These may include better management of high blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, reduced body weight and more energy. Work with your doctor to set goals specific to your needs and develop a nutrition plan that will work for you.
Common conditions requiring a heart nutrition program
Consider following a heart nutrition program if you:
- Have a family history of heart disease
- Have had a heart attack
- Have had a stroke
- Have other chronic health conditions that can lead to heart disease
When to seek care
If you think you may need to use a heart nutrition program, start by voicing your concerns and symptoms to your primary care provider. From there, your doctor may suggest seeing a cardiologist for more specialized treatment.