A heart surgery patient diet should include all the guidelines suggested by the doctor or dietitian as per the patient’s condition. Dietary guidelines may vary depending on your overall health and specific calorie needs, but there is some general advice on open-heart surgery diet that people can follow post the surgery.

After the surgery, you will be at high risk of infection and health risks, if you do not give proper care to your diet. In order to make sure that the surgery is as effective as it is supposed to be, and that you remain healthy, make sure you follow the tips for as long as your doctor has asked you to.

The Surgeons or dietitian will give you an open heart surgery diet plan which should be strictly followed. Here is a look at the type of foods you should definitely include in your diet after open-heart surgery.

  • Whole grains contain a good amount of fiber that will help your digestive system stay healthy. It will also keep your heart in good shape by keeping your weight in check. Instead of having refined carbohydrates, which include white bread or foods that are sweet, go for whole grains as part of your regular diet.
  • Some foods that you can include in your whole grain meal plan are brown rice, quinoa, wild rice, whole-wheat pasta, non-processed oats, 100 percent whole-grain bread and such.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables are great for your health, as well as the health of your heart. They contain a host of nutrients that will strengthen your immunity, are rich in antioxidants and will help you fight off most infections. Eating fruits and vegetables on an everyday basis will also reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack as well as keep your blood pressure in check.
  • Go for different colored fruits and vegetables to get the most amount of nutrition on a daily basis. Some fruits and vegetables that are really good in their antioxidant content are sweet potatoes, apples, kiwis, papayas, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, carrots and different types of berries.
  • Eating lean protein will keep your heart healthy and not add any undue pressure on the same. It will also keep your heart strong to ward off infections and help in the overall recovery process. Fatty fish are a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids that are known to improve the health of your heart.
  • For lean protein, eat foods such as low-fat dairy products, chicken or turkey breasts, fish, beans, nuts, legumes and other types of lean meat. For fatty fish, go for fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel.

Mentioned above are some of the food for open-heart surgery patients which are recommended by expert surgeons and dietitians after a lot of research and studies which proved to be helpful to most of the patients in their recovery post the surgery.

Here is a look at the type of foods you should definitely NOT INCLUDE in a heart surgery patient diet when you are recovering.

  • Too much salt, or sodium, in your diet, can increase your risk of high blood pressure, which in turn can exert a lot of strain on your heart. Also, having too much sodium in your diet can make your body hold on to fluids, which can add pressure on your veins and arteries.
  • The best way to reduce your sodium intake is to have a diet that is very low on salt. Your doctor may also ask you to only eat foods that say no added salt. In some cases, your doctor may also prescribe a type of water pill that will help to flush out the sodium and fluid from your system.

Make sure you do not include any packaged and processed foods in your diet, as these are high in preservatives and not good for your heart health. Here are some foods you should definitely stay away from:

  • Processed meats such as sausages, hams, bacon, hot dogs and such
  • Potato chips, wafers, salted nuts
  • Frozen and ready to eat meals
  • Foods that contain monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Canned soups, beans, broths, juices or processed cut fruits and vegetables
  • Pickled vegetables

Although it is known for affecting your liver, too much alcohol can damage your heart as well. Drinking too much alcohol increases your triglycerides, which are fats found in your blood. Excessive alcohol intake can increase your LDL, or bad cholesterol while decreasing your HDL, the good cholesterol. High LDL levels, along with high blood pressure and cardiomyopathy, increase your chances of experiencing cardiovascular issues after cardiac bypass surgery. Alcohol is full of empty calories. If you gravitate toward king-sized margaritas or other mixed drinks, you may be consuming lots of excess sugar as well.

Remember that not only is it important to exercise and follow a healthy lifestyle to keep your heart in good shape, the foods you eat and avoid also have a key role to play.