When your heart is enlarged or weak, it does not pump blood effectively and can cause a variety of symptoms, such as fatigue, shortness of breath and coughing. Diets high in fat and sodium are associated with poor heart health, and as such a healthy, balanced diet can be key to strengthen heart function.
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If you have a weak heart, your diet should include fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish. Foods rich in fiber, such as whole-wheat breads and pastas or brown rice are also an important component of a heart-healthy diet because fiber can help you feel fuller, limiting cravings for unhealthy foods. Egg whites and nonfat dairy products provide important sources of protein and calcium while being low in fat.
Foods to Avoid
When you're eating for heart health, avoid canned and processed foods, as they often contain added sodium and unhealthy fats, both of which contribute to heart problems. Avoid red meats, fried foods and foods high in saturated fat, such as whole eggs or full-fat cheeses. Eliminate junk food and fast food to reduce your intake of sodium and saturated fats.
Tips on Dietary Fats
Include heart-healthy fats in your diet, such as omega-3 fatty acids from fish and unsaturated fats from olive or sunflower oils. Use all oils in moderation for cooking. Avoid saturated fats from meat, butter and lard, as they increase your low-density lipoprotein levels and compromise heart health. Avoid trans fats from fried, junk and processed foods completely.
Cooking and Meal Planning Tips
Plan meals based on fresh foods and read food labels carefully to help control the sodium and fat content of your food. Use fat-free cooking methods, such as broiling meats or steaming vegetables, to reduce your use of oils or butter. Create healthy and satisfying meals by flavoring foods with herbs, hot sauces, and citrus juice, in place of salt, heavy sauces or butter.