Heart Disease: Helping Your Loved One With Heart Disease
For a person with heart disease, proper nutrition is essential
to managing symptoms and preventing further complications. Not only can proper
diet help slow the artery-clogging process, but when combined with careful
lifestyle modification, it may even stop
or reverse the narrowing of arteries.
For caregivers and their loved ones with heart
disease, adopting a heart-healthy diet can help reduce total and LDL
cholesterol, lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, and reduce
body weight. While most dietary plans detail what CAN'T be eaten,
the most powerful nutrition strategy helps people with heart disease
focus on what they CAN eat. In fact, heart disease research has
shown that adding heart-saving foods is just as important as cutting
back on others. Here are some strategies to help you plan meals for
someone with heart disease:
- Serve more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. These foods may be one of the most powerful
strategies in fighting heart disease.
- Choose fat calories wisely.
Keep these goals in mind:
- Limit total fat grams.
- Serve a bare minimum of saturated fats and trans-fatty
fats (for example, fats found in butter, salad dressing, sweets and desserts).
- When you use added fat, use fats high in
monounsaturated fat (for example, fats found in olive and peanut oil) or
polyunsaturated fat (such as fats found in soybean, corn and sunflower oil).
- Serve a variety -- and just the right amount -- of
protein foods. Commonly eaten protein foods (meat, dairy
products) are among the main causes of heart disease. Reduce
this nutritional risk factor by
balancing animal, fish and vegetable sources of protein.
- Limit cholesterol
consumption. Dietarycholesterol can raise blood
cholesterol levels, especially in high-risk people. Limiting dietary
cholesterol has an added bonus: You'll also cut out saturated fat, as cholesterol and saturated fat are
usually found in the same foods. Give your loved one energy by
serving complex carbohydrates (such
as whole wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, whole-grain breads) and limit simple
carbohydrates (such as regular soft drinks, sugar, sweets).
- Feed your loved one regularly. Skipping meals often leads to overeating. By serving five to
six mini-meals you can help your loved one control blood sugars, burn fat calories more
efficiently and regulate cholesterol levels.
Other Heart-Healthy Strategies
- De-emphasize salt. This
will help your loved one control his or her blood pressure.
- Encourage exercise. The human body was meant to be active. Exercise strengthens the heart muscle, improves
blood flow, reduces high blood pressure, raises HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol), and helps control blood sugars and body
- Encourage hydration. Water
is vital to life. Staying
hydrated makes you feel energetic and eat less. Encourage your
loved one to drink 32 to 64 ounces (about one to two liters) of
water daily (unless he or she is fluid restricted).
An excellent motto to follow is: dietary
enhancement, not deprivation. When people enjoy what they eat, they
feel more positive about life, which helps them feel better.
How Much Is In a Serving?
When trying to coordinate an eating plan that's good
for the heart, it may help to know how much of a certain kind of
food is considered a "serving." The following table offers some
||The size of
|1 cup cooked rice or pasta
|1 slice bread
||compact disc case
|1 cup raw vegetables or fruit
||1 cup raw vegetables or fruit
|1/2 cup cooked vegetables or fruit
||1 fruit or vegetable
||cupcake wrapper full or size of ice cream
|1 ounce cheese
||1 high-fat protein
||pair of dice
|1 teaspoon olive oil
|3 ounces cooked meat
||deck of cards or cassette tape
|3 ounces tofu
||deck of cards or cassette tape
|** Remember to count fat servings that may
be added to food while cooking (oil for sauteing, butter or
shortening for baking)
Reviewed by the doctors at
The Cleveland Clinic Heart Center.
Last Editorial Review: 1/31/2005 10:49:22 AM
Edited by Cynthia Haines, MD, WebMD,
Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic 2000-2005