Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Congestive Heart Failure Diet

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How Much Sodium Is Allowed For A Heart

Congestive heart failure and low sodium diet

Your healthcare provider may suggest sticking between 1,500 mg to 2,000 mg of sodium per day. If youre wondering how you can start cutting down on sodium, try taking the salt shaker off the table, as 1 teaspoon of table salt equals 2,300 mg of sodium.

Also, remember that processed food has a lot of sodium. The majority of sodium in the average Americans diet is from processed foods and convenience foods. The salt shaker is just the tip of the iceberg. So skip the drive-thru and start cooking with fresh ingredients at home. And when you do eat at a restaurant, look for simply prepared foods the more processed the food is, the more likely its high in sodium.

Look for a baked potato instead of mashed, says Taylor. Choose a side salad instead of vegetable soup, since commercial broths are typically 800 mg of sodium per 1 cup. And ask the waiter to skip that bread basket 1 roll typically contains more than 150 mg of sodium.

And as youre adjusting to the changes in your diet, it might help to keep a record of how much sodium youre eating every day. You can write it down or use a meal tracking app to make things easier.

Recipes For Congestive Heart Failure Patients

Green Bean Casserole. Mamas Green Bean Casserole. Low-Sodium Green Bean Casserole Thanksgiving, Christmas recipe idea for low-salt diets or those who have heart failure. Slaw Recipes.

Buckwheat pancakes. Chicken and asparagus tossed with penne. Chicken brats. Chicken salad with pineapple and balsamic vinaigrette. Chicken tamales. Chili. Cinnamon French toast. Corn tamales with avocado-tomatillo salsa.

Also Check: Little Smokies Recipe With Grape Jelly

Get Rid Of The Salt Shaker

When it comes to reducing salt in your diet, out of sight, out of mind is an effective approach. Simply getting rid of the salt shaker in your kitchen or on the dinner table can make a big impact.

Need some motivation? One shake of salt contains about 250 mg of sodium, which is one-eighth of your daily intake.

Read Also: How Do You Know If You Have Heart Failure

How Sodium Affects Heart Health

Sodium is a mineral and its naturally found in foods. But its added to processed foods, too. While sodium helps keep a normal balance of fluid in your body, those living with heart failure need to follow a low-sodium diet because it helps control symptoms and can prevent other heart problems.

A low-sodium diet can help control blood volume and blood pressure. Excess sodium intake can lead to fluid retention, explains Taylor. Since people with heart failure often suffer from volume overload , a diet low in sodium can help lessen fluid retention, meaning the heart doesnt have to work so hard.

High blood pressure can increase your risk for stroke, kidney disease and heart disease, like heart failure. Following a low-sodium diet can help improve blood pressure control, which can reduce your risk of these diseases from developing or worsening.

Congestive Heart Failure Increases Fluid Retention

Congestive Heart Failure

With heart failure, your heart pumps less blood than it otherwise would if it was healthy, causing a decrease in blood pressure.

To compensate for reduced blood flow, your heart beats faster, your veins constrict, and your kidneys retain water to maintain proper blood circulation .

Over time, these compensatory methods to maintain proper blood circulation to your bodys tissues cause fluid buildup or congestion in and around organs such as the lungs, ankles, and feet.

This fluid accumulates gradually over time, causing shortness of breath and swelling in your lower legs. Your doctor may prescribe you medications to reduce fluid buildup, but eating the right diet can also help.

Also Check: How To Diagnose Heart Attack

Nutrition Guide For Heart Failure

Following a low-sodium diet and drinking less fluid can help you feel better and allow your heart failure medicines to work better. A low-sodium diet may even keep you out of the hospital. It is not an easy diet to follow. You may find eating with heart failure is a bit of a balancing act. While you dont want to eat too much of high sodium foods, you have to be sure to eat enough to maintain good nutrition.

Nutrition and Heart Failure

The recommended salt intake is 2,000 mg of sodium per day.

Salt is a mineral that is made of sodium and chloride. It is found in food, table salt and sea salt. Sodium acts like a sponge and makes the body hold water.

Eating too much sodium when you have heart failure can cause fluid buildup in your legs, stomach and lungs and force you heart to work harder.

Most of the sodium we eat is hidden in foods. Even food that does not taste salty can contain a lot of sodium.

You should restrict the amount of sodium you eat to 2,000 mg or less each day. Try to keep the sodium content of each meal to less than 600 mg. This helps spread out your sodium intake over the day to prevent excessive fluid retention.

You can take a few basic steps to reduce the amount of sodium in your diet:

  • Dont add salt when you cook or at the table
  • Learn to read food labels
  • Choose more foods that are lower in sodium
  • Limit high sodium foods

Reading a Food Label for Sodium

Follow these easy steps to read the label:

Low-Sodium Foods

Diet And Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart does not pump efficiently and does not deliver enough oxygen to your body. Many diseases lead to CHF, such as high blood pressure and diseases of the heart and kidney.

Treatment for CHF helps to prevent its complications and relieve its symptoms.

The heart does not have to work as hard when you make some changes in your diet. If you eat too much salt or drink too much fluid, your body’s water content may increase and make your heart work harder. This can worsen your CHF. The following diet will help decrease some of your symptoms.

Read Also: Why Does My Heart Rate Go Up At Night

How To Improve Heart Health

Along with following a heart-healthy dietand avoiding foods that are known to take a toll on cardiovascular healththere are simple lifestyle habits you can implement for better heart health. Specifically, Dr. Eimer recommends:

  • Dining out less frequently
  • Saving dessert for special occasions
  • Exercising regularly
  • Adding fresh fruit, vegetables and fiber-rich foods to your plate
  • Planning your meals ahead
  • Limiting alcohol to no more than one drink a day

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How Does Heart Failure Change How Your Body Regulates And Uses Nutrients

Congestive Heart Failure – Your Diet

As heart failure progresses, the heart loses its ability to pump strongly, and blood flow throughout the body decreases. This causes a number of reactions throughout the body. Decreased blood flow to the kidneys hinders their ability to remove excess sodium from the body.

Reduced cardiac output from ineffective pumping stimulates the kidneys to retain fluid. Retained fluid causes congestion in the lungs and difficulty breathing. Excess sodium in the body results in the release of a hormone called aldosterone that causes the body to retain fluid as well. Fluid builds up in the body and causes congestion in the lungs, which makes breathing difficult. Also, fluid may build up in the wall of your intestines, which can make it difficult to absorb nutrients from your food. If your body does not receive the nutrition that it needs, you will lose muscle tissue and your body will not be able to fight off infections.

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What If You Need Extra Calories And Nutrients

In severe heart failure, more calories are often needed because of the increased workload of the heart and lungs. But calorie requirements will vary, based on your current nutritional status.

If you are underweight or malnourished, you will need to increase your intake to obtain sufficient calories and protein to prevent the loss of muscle tissue, maintain or gain weight, and achieve a healthy level of protein in the blood.

In people whose activity is very limited , it is important to obtain sufficient calories and protein to prevent the development of pressure injuries . Increased food intake is often difficult for individuals who have moderate to severe heart failure because of the congestion, poor appetite, shortness of breath, and nausea that are often caused by this condition or by the medicines used to treat it.

The body’s increased energy demands along with the obstacles to sufficient intake can often lead to malnutrition in people who have heart failure. The following is a list of suggestions to help you boost your appetite and to help you increase your calories and protein with as little volume and discomfort as possible.

Tips for increasing your calorie and protein intake

Tips For Reducing Sodium Consumption

Your body is constantly trying to strike the perfect balance between electrolytes, including sodium, and water. When you consume a lot of sodium, your body hangs on to extra water to balance it. For most people, this just results in some bloating and mild discomfort.

However, people with CHF already have extra fluid in their bodies, which makes fluid retention a more serious health concern. Doctors generally recommend that people with CHF limit their sodium intake to about 2,000 milligrams per day. This is slightly less than 1 teaspoon of salt.

While this might seem like a hard amount to limit yourself to, there are several easy steps you can take to eliminate extra salt from your diet without sacrificing flavor.

Also Check: How To Treat Heart Failure

Blood Pressure And Salt

A diet high in salt is linked to hypertension , which can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Most of us consume more than 10 times the amount of salt we need to meet our sodium requirements .

Most of the sodium in our diet is not from added salt at the table, but from packaged and processed foods. Even sweet foods and those that dont taste salty can have much more sodium than youd expect!

A simple way to cut down on the amount of sodium in your diet is to reduce the amount of processed foods, limit fast food and use herbs and spices for flavour.

Nutrition Tips For Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive Heart Failure

If you have congestive heart failure, follow these nutrition guidelines:

  • Check food labels, and bound salt and sodium to 1,500 to 2,000 milligrams per day.
  • Substitute salt and other high-sodium seasonings with replacements that have no salt or are low in sodium.
  • While dining out, think about unrevealed sources of salt and sodium, such as salad dressings and soups. Ask for options low in salt and sodium.
  • Select meats and other foods that are low in saturated fat to help in lowering your cholesterol levels.
  • Avoiding alcohol is must. If your heart failure is caused by alcohol, its especially important that you dont drink any alcoholic beverages.

Read Also: Do All Heart Attacks Damage The Heart

What Causes Congestive Heart Failure In Dogs

Dog congestive heart failure, as mentioned, refers to an inability of the heart to pump blood adequately. This is most often caused by forward resistance or the back-leaking of blood into the heart.

In dogs, the two most common causes are:

  • Mitral valve insufficiency: Blood leaks through the mitral valve from the left ventricle into the left atrium.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy: The ventricle stretches, thins and can’t pump blood as well, and it has been linked to certain grain-free diets containing peas and/or legumes.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is also a common cause. Blood pressure can be affected by your dogs diet.

Malnutrition In Hf Patients

Suggested influence of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet on heart failure pathophysiology and nutritional status: a conceptual framework

Due to the pathophysiological link between malnutrition and HF, several studies have investigated the prognostic impact of nutrition on HF outcomes, using nutritional assessment indices based on biochemical and clinical markers, including serum albumin, total cholesterol levels, and total lymphocyte count . Scores that represented poorer nutritional status were associated with longer hospital stays, in-hospital mortality, progressive HF requiring readmission, and cardiovascular events . While there are limitations to these indices due to an underlying pathophysiological state of inflammation in HF per se, they may detect both poor malnutrition and cardiac cachexia. For example, prealbumin, a clinical marker of nutritional status, could be indicative of protein malnutrition or altered due to disproportionate mobilization of muscle and degradation of protein .

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Whats The Best Diet For Congestive Heart Failure

The Mediterranean diet is considered one of the best diets to follow for heart health. It was ranked the number 1 diet according to the U.S. News & World Report.

In particular, it is rated amongst the best because of how healthy it is as well as how easy it is to follow. This makes it a perfect diet to follow if you want to find a sustainable way of eating healthy long-term.

Many credible organisations suggest following a Mediterranean diet for health reasons. These include:

  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 150g / ¾ cup tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • handful pitted black kalamata olives
  • ½ red onion, finely sliced
  • 50g / ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • small bunch mint leaves, chopped
  • juice and zest ½ lemon


  • Cook the quinoa following the pack instructions, then rinse in cold water and drain thoroughly.
  • Meanwhile, toss the chicken fillets in the olive oil with some seasoning, chilli and garlic. Lay in a hot pan and cook for 3-4 minutes each side or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate and set aside
  • Next, tip the tomatoes, olives, onion, feta and mint into a bowl. Toss in the cooked quinoa. Stir through the remaining olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and season well. Serve with the chicken on top.
    • 300ml / 1 ¼ cups hot vegetable stock
    • 200g can / 1 cup chopped tomatoes
    • 200g can / 1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    • 50g / ¼ cup frozen broad beans
    • zest and juice ½ lemon
    • coriander & bread to serve


    Dinner: Spicy Mediterranean Beet Salad



    Foods To Avoidin The Diet

    Dr. Using plant based diet to heal congestive heart failure

    As the heart muscles in seniors with congestive heart failure become weakened, many kinds of foods can damage the heart further. That is why assisted living facilities prepare low-sodium meal plans for such seniors.

    Foods that have high sodium or salt can cause the body to retain more fluids and lead to increased blood pressure. This can be very dangerous for seniors with congestive heart failure. To steer clear of excessive sodium intake, seniors are advised to avoid consuming foods like frozen dinners, canned soups, smoked, cured, or canned meat, salted snacks and nuts, instant pudding, cottage cheese, salad dressing, and vegetable juice.

    Aside from that, foods rich in cholesterol and saturated fat should also be avoided to manage the symptoms of the heart condition. These include fatty pieces of meat, butter, margarine, fried foods, processed grains, white rice, pasta, white bread, and boxed cereals. Saturated fat and cholesterol can lead to the clogging of the arteries, which can disrupt the circulatory system in seniors and cause other complications.

    Caregivers at assisted living communities also make sure that seniors with congestive heart failure do not consume alcohol, as that can raise blood pressure and heart rate or lead to an irregular heartbeat. Even red wine, which is usually considered good for the heart, is not recommended to seniors with congestive heart failure. Drinking too much water is also bad for seniors diagnosed with the heart disease.

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    Caring For Someone With Heart Failure

    Looking after someone with heart failure can mean anything from helping with hospital or GP visits and collecting prescriptions, to full-time caring.

    There are many ways you can support someone with heart failure.

    Heart failure can be disabling and distressing, and many people with the condition find it a huge relief to share their concerns and fears with someone.

    As a carer, if you can attend GP and hospital appointments with the person with heart failure, you can encourage them to ask the right questions while you note down the answers.

    You could also provide the doctor with additional information or insights into the person’s condition, which can be helpful for planning the right treatment.

    Another way you can help is by watching for warning signs that the person’s heart failure is getting worse or they’re not responding to treatment.

    Contact the person’s doctor if you notice a new symptom or their current symptoms are getting worse.

    Signs to look out for include:

    • shortness of breath that isn’t related to usual exercise or activity
    • increased swelling of the legs or ankles
    • significant weight gain over a few days
    • swelling or pain in their tummy
    • trouble sleeping or waking up short of breath
    • a dry, hacking cough
    • increasing tiredness or feeling tired all the time

    See the care and support guide for information about all aspects of caring for someone with a long-term condition.

    Do You Need Natural Health Products

    You can usually get all of your vitamins and minerals by eating a heart-healthy diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables.

    Your doctor might recommend a multivitamin/mineral supplement if you are undernourished or cannot completely meet your nutritional needs through food.

    If you take a diuretic for heart failure, this medicine might change your dietary needs for potassium, magnesium, calcium, and zinc. Ask your doctor if you should take natural health products or eat certain foods to get enough of these minerals.

    Fish oil supplements have been shown to help some heart failure patients. In some studies, fish oil supplements, taken along with other heart failure medicines, helped people stay out of the hospital and live longer.footnote 1

    Talk to your doctor before you take any over-the-counter medicine or supplement. They are used along with medical treatments for heart failure, not instead of treatment.


    If you take a diuretic, ask your doctor if you need to take a potassium supplement or if you need to watch the amount of potassium in your diet. If you take a loop diuretic or thiazide diuretic, your doctor may suggest that you get extra potassium because these medicines lower your potassium levels. But if you take a potassium-sparing diuretic, you might not need to get extra potassium in your diet.


    Good food sources of magnesium include seeds, nuts, legumes, unmilled cereal grains, and dark green vegetables.

    Calcium and zinc

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