While all adults should practice heart-healthy diet practices, nutrition is especially important for people who have had coronary bypass surgery. For these patients, limit cholesterol and sodium intake more than a passing recommendation-it can literally save lives. Diet recommendations for cardiac patients is built on the same principles should guide everyone’s choice, but emphasizes low calorie, low cholesterol and low sodium intake
The importance of a heart healthy diet
According to the American Heart Association, over 448,000 Americans had coronary bypass surgery last year. The reason most people have bypass surgery to replace coronary arteries that have become clogged with calcified plaque that has developed as a result of years of high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease. Bypass surgery has a very high success rate, with artery grafts that last 10 to 15 years. However, it is not a panacea. After surgery, patients are instructed to follow a heart-healthy diet that emphasizes low cholesterol, sodium and fat intake to prevent bypass grafts forced.
Special diet Recommendations
A heart-healthy diet consisting of a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods from six different food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, meat and bean and oils. For the average healthy adult males eat 2,000 calories a day, this includes six to eight daily servings of grains, four to five daily servings of vegetables, four to five daily servings of fruit, two to three daily servings of fat-free or low fat products, fewer than six grams of lean meat, poultry or seafood per day, two to three daily servings of fats and oils and four to five portions of nuts, seeds or legumes per week.
The Cleveland Clinic recommends that bypass patients restrict their diet to less than 7% of total daily calories from saturated fat, less than one percent from tans fats and limit their cholesterol to less than 300 mg per day. In addition, the bypass patients eat fish twice a week, favoring whole grain, high fiber foods over processed foods, eat more fruits and vegetables, limit salt intake to less than 1,500 mg per day and avoiding foods and drinks that contain added sugar.
Bypass patients should also avoid fad diets, such as Atkins or South Beach, which replace carbohydrates with high intake of protein. These diets replaces usually starches, fruits and vegetables with high-fat meat, eggs and other dairy products that can raise cholesterol levels.
Adjusting to Real Life
Adapting to a new diet can be challenging at first, but it need not be. Bypass patients should start by following the general dietary guidelines outlined above, limiting total calories, cholesterol, fat and sodium intake. After a few weeks, they should look for other ways to replace calorie-dense foods with healthier alternatives. When eating out or with friends at home, it is important to take control by asking for healthier substitutes such as non-fat yogurt instead of butter and sour cream on baked potatoes. When ordering in restaurants, it’s a good idea to ask for sauces on the side rather than being added to the kitchen.
Finally, do not forget about exercise. Adding 20 to 30 minutes daily aerobic exercise can help expend calories, raising high density lipoproteins (the good kind of cholesterol) and maintain higher metabolism throughout the day. Diet and exercise go hand in hand for healthy living.