Heart surgery can be a lifesaver. But, it’s also something that requires good care during the recovery period.
If you are facing heart surgery or have just leave surgery, you are going to need to balance many physical and emotional needs at once. Obviously, you will want to have a speedy, healthy recovery when you minimize any pain or discomfort you feel.
At the same time, you will need to attend to any medications your medical professional prescribes. And, you have the all-important issue of maintaining a heart-healthy diet. In the end, it is highly likely that poor eating habits got you into this mess.
After heart surgery, you need to have the right diet. This means knowing which foods to eat and which in order to avoid. This lens explores diet tips for heart surgery patients so that you can find the foods that will get you returning to health more quickly.
The Importance of a Heart Healthy Diet
Based on the American Heart Association, over 448,000 Americans had heart bypass surgery last year. The reason why most people have bypass surgery is usually to replace coronary arteries which are today clogged with calcified plaque which includes developed as a result of a lot of high cholesterol intake, smoking cigarettes, diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease. Bypass surgery includes a very high success rate, with all the artery grafts lasting 10 to 15 years. But, it’s not at all a miracle cure. After surgery, patients are expected to follow a heart-healthy diet that emphasizes low cholesterol, sodium and fat intake to prevent having the bypass grafts close prematurely.
Specific Diet Recommendations
A heart-healthy diet consists of a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods from six different daily food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, meats & bean and oils. For that average healthy adult male consuming 2,000 calories per day, this includes six to eight daily areas of grains, four to five daily servings of vegetables, four to five daily servings of fruits, two to three daily areas of fat-free or low fat products, lower than six ounces of lean meat, poultry or seafood per day, two to three daily servings of fats and oils and seven or more servings of nuts, seeds or legumes each week.
The Cleveland Clinic recommends that bypass patients restrict their diet to lower than 7% of total daily calories from unhealthy fat, less than one percent from tans fats and limit their cholesterol intake to under 300 mg per day. In addition, bypass patients should eat fish two times a week, favor wholemeal, high fiber foods over refined food, eat more fruits and vegetables, limit sodium intake to lower than 1500 mg each day and avoid foods and beverages that have added sugar.
Bypass patients also needs to avoid fad diets, like Atkins or South Beach, that replace carbohydrates rich in intakes of protein. These diets typically replace starches, fruits and vegetables with high-fat meats, eggs and other dairy products that can raise levels of cholesterol.
Adjusting to Real Life
Transitioning to a new diet can be challenging at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Bypass patients should start with following the general dietary guidelines outlined above, limiting total calories, cholesterol, fat and sodium intake. After a couple of weeks, they should try to find additional ways to replace calorie-dense foods with healthier alternatives. When eating out or at friends’ homes, it’s important to take control by getting healthier substitutions like non-fat yogurt instead of butter and sour cream on baked potatoes. When ordering in restaurants, it’s wise to ask for the condiments privately instead of having them added from the kitchen.
Finally, do not forget about exercise. Adding 20 to 30 minutes of daily fitness can help expend calories, elevate high density lipoproteins (the great type of cholesterol) and gaze after higher metabolic rates over the day. Diet and exercise go hand in hand for healthy living.
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