Sample Diet For Managing Congestive Heart Failure

A woman is holding a basket of fresh vegetables.
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Congestive heart failure effects about 5 million people in the United States and is responsible for more than 300,000 deaths annually, according to the website MedlinePlus. When you have congestive heart failure, your heart can no longer efficiently pump enough blood throughout your body, leading to a build up of blood and fluid around your heart, lungs and extremities. Following a healthy diet can help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Diet Guidelines

The goal of diet therapy for congestive heart failure is to lessen the work load of your heart, reduce fluid build up and make it easier for you to breath. The diet for congestive heart failure limits your intake of sodium to 2,000 to 3,000 mg a day and encourages you to choose more fresh, unprocessed foods that are naturally lower in sodium. Some people with congestive heart failure also need to limit their fluid intake. Talk to your doctor about your daily fluid needs.


A low-sodium breakfast meal may include 1 cup of cooked oatmeal topped with 1/4 cup of raisins and 1/2 cup of nonfat milk served with a hard-boiled egg and 1/2 cup of orange juice. This breakfast meal contains 465 calories and 125 mg of sodium. When trying to decrease the sodium in your diet, the first step is to stop adding salt while cooking and eating at the table. One teaspoon of salt contains 2,200 mg of sodium.


A low-sodium lunch meal for congestive heart failure may include 3 oz. of low-sodium tuna mixed with 1 tbsp. of low-fat mayonnaise on two slices of whole wheat bread, served with 1 cup of mixed greens topped with 1 tsp. of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, 1 cup of nonfat fruit yogurt and a small orange. This meal contains 620 calories and 700 mg of sodium. You can also help limit your sodium intake by preparing foods at home. This way you know exactly how much sodium you are eating.


A low-sodium dinner meal may include 3 oz of baked chicken breast seasoned with fresh rosemary and served with 1 cup of rosemary roasted new potatoes drizzled with 1 tsp. of olive oil, 1 cup of roasted carrots with 1 tsp. of olive oil, and 1 cup of nonfat milk. This sample dinner meal contains 580 calories and 360 mg of sodium. Eliminating salt from your diet can take time for your taste buds to get used to. Use herbs and spices to add flavor to your food without the salt. Healthy salt-free seasonings include garlic, pepper, rosemary, basil, oregano, lemon and vinegar.


You can snack on your diet for congestive heart failure. Read food labels of some of your favorite snack items to help you limit your sodium intake. A healthy and low-fat snack may include a medium apple with 1/4 cup of unsalted almonds, which has 230 calories and 15 mg of sodium.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911. If you think you may have COVID-19, use the CDC’s Coronavirus Self-Checker before leaving the house.