What to Eat After a Heart Attack | Healthy Diet Guide

Adopt a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins to promote recovery and prevent future heart attacks. Avoid salt, saturated fats, and processed foods.

After a heart attack, it’s crucial to change to a heart-healthy diet. This diet includes lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These foods help lower the risk of having another heart attack and speed up recovery.1 The American Heart Association (AHA) says eating a diet that supports heart health is a key part of treatment.1 They suggest trying the Mediterranean diet or the DASH diet. These diets focus on eating more plant-based foods, whole grains, and healthy fats.1 It’s also advised to talk to your doctor or a dietitian. They can help you build a diet that’s right for your situation and aims.

Key Takeaways

  • The American Heart Association recommends a heart-healthy diet to reduce the risk of heart attack recurrence.
  • The Mediterranean and DASH diets are two dietary approaches that can benefit heart health after a heart attack.
  • Consulting with healthcare professionals can help create a personalized eating plan for post-heart attack recovery.
  • A heart-healthy diet should focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
  • Limiting ultra-processed foods, added sugars, and unhealthy fats is important for heart health.

The Importance of a Heart-Healthy Diet After a Heart Attack

After a heart attack, eating healthy is key for a strong heart.1 The American Heart Association says changing your diet is very important.1 This diet can lower bad risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. These can lead to a future heart attack.1 Eating the right foods will help your heart and lower the chance of having another heart attack.

Adopting a Preventive Approach

The key is to prevent another heart attack by making smart diet choices, says the American Heart Association.1 They suggest trying the Mediterranean or DASH diets. These can make a big difference in keeping your heart healthy.1

The Role of Diet in Reducing Recurrence Risk

A good diet is critical for reducing the chance of another heart attack.1 It helps by fixing things like diabetes and high blood pressure. As you get healthier, your heart does too.1 Keeping an eye on blood pressure and sugar is a tip from the World Health Organization. It’s how you stay on top of your health.1

Recommended Diets: Mediterranean and DASH

The American Heart Association suggests that the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet are good for heart health after a heart attack.1

Mediterranean Diet: Focus on Plants and Healthy Fats

Fruits, veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats are key in the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil, nuts, and avocados are important.2 Red meat is only eaten a little.2

DASH Diet: Fruits, Veggies, Whole Grains, and Low-Fat Dairy

The DASH diet is all about fruits, veggies, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. It also includes lean proteins but avoids sodium, added sugars, and unhealthy fats.1 Both these diets help heart health and lower the risk of heart problems.1

Mediterranean and DASH diets

Heart-Healthy Food Groups

Eating right after a heart attack means choosing from many nutritious food groups.

Vegetables: Colorful and Nutrient-Dense

Leafy greens, colorful fruits, and cruciferous veggies are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants.

Fruits: Fresh, Frozen, or Canned

Enjoy fruits in any form for their fiber and natural sugars.

Whole Grains: Oats, Brown Rice, and Whole Wheat

Healthy grains like oats and brown rice are packed with fiber and nutrients.

Low-Fat Dairy: Yogurt, Milk, and Cheese

Opt for low-fat dairy to get your fill of protein and calcium.

Lean Proteins: Fish, Poultry, Eggs, Legumes, and Nuts

Lean proteins like fish and nuts are key for muscle and health.

Healthy Fats: Olive Oil, Avocados, and Nuts

Olive oil and nuts have fats that can soothe inflammation and aid your heart.


what to eat after a heart attack

Eating right after a heart attack is crucial. Focus on a heart-healthy diet: lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.4 This diet helps your heart recover, lowers the risk of another heart attack, and boosts your heart health overall.1 Talk to a doctor or a dietitian to make a food plan just for you.

One big rule for a heart-healthy diet is keeping sodium low. This cuts down on extra fluid and heart stress.4 Too much fluid makes your heart work harder, and you might not feel like eating or be short of breath. Skip lots of caffeine too; it’s better for your heart to rest.4

Choose foods that are good for your heart. Go for lean protein and lots of colorful fruits and veggies.4 Add nuts, beans, and seeds for healthy fats and more nutrients.4 Don’t forget about healthy fats from olive oil, nuts, and avocados. Try to avoid fried foods and animal fats.4 Whole grains are also great, like whole-wheat bread and brown rice. They’re better than sugary, low-fiber carbs.4

Stay away from processed meats and eat more lean meat and fish rich in omega-3s.4 Say no to highly processed snacks with lots of salt but little real value.4 Reduce the salt you add to food and use herbs and spices instead.4 Choose low-fat dairy and avoid high-fat options. This helps lower bad fats in your diet. Watch your sugar by avoiding sweet treats and sugary drinks.4

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Foods to Limit or Avoid

After a heart attack, avoiding certain foods is crucial.1 The American Heart Association advises against ultra-processed foods, added sugars, and processed meats.1 These items also include high salt foods, alcoholic drinks, tropical oils, and fats from animals.1 They are not good for your heart as they can cause inflammation and up the heart disease risk.

Ultra-Processed Foods and Added Sugars

Stay away from ultra-processed foods, like snacks and fast food.1 They are filled with added sugars, making them bad for your heart.1

High-Sodium Foods and Processed Meats

3 Try to keep your daily sodium under 2,300 mg, and aim for 1,500 mg if possible.4 Too much salt can lead to fluid around the lungs, high blood pressure, and strain on the heart.4 So, cut back on processed meats like deli slices and sausages, they’re quite salty.

Unhealthy Fats: Saturated and Trans Fats

3 For a healthy heart, limit saturated fat to less than 6% of your daily calories.4 Foods with too much saturated and trans fats are not heart-friendly. This includes fried food and some dairy.4 Try not to eat these too often.

The Role of Supplements

Focusing on eating heart-healthy foods is key. Yet, some supplements can help after a heart attack. For instance, Omega-3 fatty acids5 and vitamin D3 are good for your heart. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and folic acid5 can also boost heart health.5

Potential Benefits of Supplements

Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil lower triglycerides by 30%.5 Vitamin D is crucial, especially for those with dark skin or living far from the equator. These conditions increase the risk of not getting enough of this important vitamin. This lack can lead to a serious shortage.3Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and folic acid are also beneficial for the heart.5

Consult with Your Doctor Before Taking Supplements

The American Heart Association warns against taking supplements without advice. Always talk to your doctor first. They will check if you really need them. They can also make sure they’re safe with any medicines you take.3

Lifestyle Changes for Heart Health

Aside from eating right, changing your lifestyle can make a big difference for your heart health. This includes getting more active, managing your weight, lowering stress, and quitting smoking.6

Regular Physical Activity and Exercise

Doing physical activities like walking fast or swimming helps your heart get stronger and lowers the chance of heart issues.6 A good goal is to do this kind of exercise 3 to 5 times a week, about 30 to 35 minutes each time.6

Weight Management

Keeping a healthy weight by eating well and moving more eases the pressure on your heart.6 Losing even a little bit of weight, like 5% to 10% body weight, can lower the risk of heart problems. It’s because your blood pressure and cholesterol improve.7 It’s smart to work with a doctor to come up with a good eating and activity plan.6

Stress Reduction

Finding ways to reduce stress, like through meditation or yoga, is good for your emotions after a heart attack. It’s also good for your general happiness.6

Smoking Cessation

If you smoke, stopping is a must because it greatly raises heart disease risk.6 It might take a few tries, but many have quit with help from groups or products like nicotine gum.6

Using these tips with a healthy eating plan can really boost your heart health. This way, you lower your heart attack risk.67

Monitoring Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar

If you’ve had a heart attack, it’s vital to check your blood pressure and sugar. High blood pressure and out-of-control sugar can lead to more heart issues.89 The World Health Organization stresses working with healthcare pros on a checking schedule. This keeps your health markers in the right range. Managing these levels well is a big step for heart health and avoiding future trouble.

Blood Pressure Targets for People with DiabetesRecommended Levels
General TargetBelow 140/90 mmHg9
For Those Aged 80 and AboveBelow 150/90 mmHg9
For Those with Kidney DiseaseBelow 130/80 mmHg9

Blood pressure should ideally be under 120/80 to be normal10. It’s considered low when less than 90/60.10 Older adults in care homes might get postprandial hypotension, with a third facing this10. The DASH diet can cut blood pressure by 11 points10. The Mediterranean diet also helps. And, lowering sodium is good for blood pressure10.

Exercise can raise blood pressure readings at first. Eating can then drop them due to postprandial hypotension.10 Other things affecting at-home blood pressure checks are a full bladder, cuff fit, clothes, warmth, how you sit, stress, and talking10. If you worry about your blood pressure, seeing the doctor often is wise, based on your age and risks.10.

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Heart Attack Prevention and Recovery

A heart-healthy diet is key for both healing after a heart attack and stopping more from happening. It’s vital to eat lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats, and good fats. This cuts the risk of another heart attack and boosts heart health overall.3 Joining cardiac rehab is smart. These programs give you advice on what to eat and how to exercise. They really help with recovery and lower the chance of a new heart problem.

The American Heart Association (AHA) says you should follow a diet that’s good for your heart to avoid another heart attack.1 They suggest trying the Mediterranean or DASH diets. These diets can lower the risk of heart attacks. Eating well stops heart issues from happening again. It also lowers the danger of diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.1

Eat plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats, and good fats to stay healthy. This not only prevents another heart attack but improves your heart’s condition.3 The DASH diet is particularly good. It focuses on the best foods for your heart.1 Also, changing your habits can help a lot. Make sure you move enough, stay at a healthy weight, and keep diseases under control. Don’t forget to relax, and if you smoke, try to stop. All this cuts risks for heart issues.1

The WHO says checking your blood pressure and sugar often is important for heart health.1 Keeping these numbers in check is a big step in staying away from heart problems.

Meal Planning and Preparation Tips

After a heart attack, meal planning is key for a healthy heart.1 Making your meals helps control portion sizes and choose good ingredients. Cooking by baking, grilling, and steaming cuts down on unhealthy fats.1 Preparing meals ahead (meal prepping) makes sticking to a healthy eating plan easier. It offers ready-to-eat, portion-controlled options all week. This way, you can keep up with your diet and boost your heart health recovery.

Homemade Meals for Portion and Ingredient Control

Making meals at home means you control portions and pick heart-healthy stuff.11 For instance, Day 1’s menu might have 1,688 calories. It has 46g fat, 29g fiber, and 94g protein. But Day 2 could be 1,621 calories with 31g fat, 24g fiber, and 83g protein.11 You can watch the sodium and sugar in your food this way. That’s good for your heart health.

Cooking Methods: Baking, Grilling, and Steaming

Cooking by baking, grilling, or steaming is heart-smart.1 These ways cut down on bad fats, leading to tasty, low-calorie meals. Mixing up how you cook brings variety and nutrition to your meals. This supports your heart’s recovery.

Meal Prepping for Convenience

Getting meals ready ahead is a smart move for your heart post-attack.11 With healthy food packed and ready, you can stay on your diet. It keeps you from choosing unhealthy options. What’s more, meal prepping saves time and lets you enjoy a range of good-for-your-heart foods daily.

Eating Out and Dining at Restaurants

Eating out after a heart attack can be tricky. But, with the right planning, you can still enjoy meals at restaurants.12

Choosing Heart-Healthy Options

Look for heart-healthy foods when you eat out. This means choosing grilled or baked lean meats and lots of fruits and veggies.12

Avoid fried and high-calorie foods like au gratin and crispy dishes.12 Also, pick low-fat desserts, such as fresh fruit or angel food cake.12

Portion Control and Moderation

Watch the size of your portions at restaurants. They’re often too big for a heart-healthy diet.12

Talk to your server about smaller portions or plan to save half for later.12 Eating slowly can also help you eat less because your brain takes time to feel full.12

Being careful about portion sizes and eating in moderation is key for a healthy diet when you eat out.12

Ask for butter, cream cheese, and sauces on the side to cut down on fats.12

Skip alcohol because it’s high in sugar and carbs. Choose healthier cooking methods, like baking or steaming, over frying.12

Replace unhealthy sides like french fries with options like baked potatoes, salads, or veggies.12

Look for colorful fruits and veggies on the menu for better health.13

Choose meals like skinless chicken and fish over salty meats like bacon. Go for whole grains, not white, for bread and pasta.13

Pick broth-based soups with lots of veggies.13Opt for cooking methods like grilling over frying. Choose healthy Mexican options like guacamole over sour cream.13

Pick light, healthy sauces with herbs over heavy, salty ones.13

Drink water, tea, or diet drinks instead of sugary beverages.13

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If the meal size is big, share with a friend or save half for later.13

Overcoming Challenges and Staying Motivated

After a heart attack, meeting a heart-healthy diet isn’t easy. But, if we stay motivated and get support, we can beat these challenges.14 Getting family and friends to join in can make a big difference. They offer support and push us to keep going.14 Connecting with support groups, on or offline, is also a great idea. It helps us not feel alone. We share tips and cheer each other on.14 Having this network around us makes sticking to a heart-healthy diet more likely over time.

Involving Family and Friends

Family and friends are key in helping with diet changes post-heart attack.14 They offer support and keep us encouraged. Working together with them on meal plans and trying new foods can be fun. It also boosts our chances at saving our heart one meal at a time.

Seeking Support and Accountability

Besides loved ones, reaching out to a larger support system helps too.14 Support groups, online or in person, link us with others sharing our journey.14 They keep us accountable and motivated. We swap stories, offer advice, and build each other up.14 Being part of such a community helps us stay on the heart-healthy track for the long haul.


Switching to a heart-healthy diet is key to healing from a heart attack and stopping more. It means eating a lot of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean meats. And it’s about saying no to processed foods and sugars.

Eating right is just part of getting better. Being active, keeping your weight in check, and managing stress matter too. And don’t forget to quit smoking if you do.15 Listen to your doctor and lean on family and friends to succeed with these changes.

If you’ve had a heart attack, getting your heart back to health might be tough. But with the right food, exercise, and regular check-ups, you can do it.16 Working on your diet and life habits, plus always staying on top of your heart’s health, improves your chances of not getting another heart attack.


What should I eat after a heart attack?

After a heart attack, focus on eating foods that are good for your heart. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Also, choose lean proteins and healthy fats.These foods can lower the chance of having another heart attack. They also help your body recover.

Why is a heart-healthy diet important after a heart attack?

Changing what you eat can lower risks like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This can prevent another heart attack. It’s about taking steps to stay healthier.

What are the recommended diets for heart health after a heart attack?

The American Heart Association suggests the Mediterranean and DASH diets. These diets are great for your heart. They help prevent more heart problems.

What are the key food groups to focus on in a heart-healthy diet?

Focus on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in your meals. Add low-fat dairy and lean proteins. Don’t forget about healthy fats, too. These are the foundation of a heart-healthy diet.

What foods should I limit or avoid after a heart attack?

Avoid foods with lots of sodium. Stay away from high-saturated fat and trans fat foods. Cut down on processed meats. This helps your heart stay healthy.

Can supplements help after a heart attack?

Some supplements might benefit you, like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Before taking any, talk to your doctor. They can help you choose what’s safe and good for you.

What lifestyle changes can support heart health after a heart attack?

Being active, keeping a healthy weight, and reducing stress are vital. Also, quit smoking if you do. These changes prevent future heart problems.

How can I effectively monitor my blood pressure and blood sugar levels?

Keep track of your blood pressure and sugar levels often. Work closely with your healthcare team. They will guide you on how to keep these numbers in the safe range.

How can meal planning and preparation help with a heart-healthy diet after a heart attack?

Cooking your meals at home using healthy methods helps a lot. Meal planning is key. It keeps your diet on track for a strong heart.

What should I consider when eating out after a heart attack?

Choose heart-friendly dishes when you eat out. Watch your portions and eat in moderation. This keeps your diet healthy even when not at home.

How can I overcome challenges and stay motivated with a heart-healthy diet?

Support from your loved ones and joining support groups can make a big difference. They help you stay strong and focused on your heart’s health journey.

Source Links

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/diet-after-heart-attack
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/heart-health/food-eat-avoid
  4. https://www.communitymedical.org/about-us/newsroom/what-to-eat-after-a-heart-attack
  5. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/supplements-heart-healthy
  6. https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/what-to-do-after-a-heart-attack
  7. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/life-after-a-heart-attack/lifestyle-changes-for-heart-attack-prevention
  8. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/heart-disease-stroke
  9. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/managing-your-diabetes/blood-pressure
  10. https://www.healthline.com/health/blood-pressure-after-eating
  11. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-healthy-diet/art-20046702
  12. https://www.premierhealth.com/your-health/articles/heart-health-news/stick-with-your-heart-healthy-diet-while-dining-out
  13. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/dining-out-doesnt-mean-ditch-your-diet
  14. https://ellenmellowmd.com/blog/7-lifestyle-changes-to-prevent-a-second-heart-attack
  15. https://familydoctor.org/keeping-heart-healthy/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5642887/