Heart failure (HF) or congestive heart failure (CHF) is described as a condition in which the body does not receive sufficient oxygen due to the heart’s inability to pump blood effectively. The condition is largely associated with problems of the heart; however, sometimes, kidneys are affected too.1 Without a doubt, lifestyle habits such as diet and exercise play an essential role in the effective management of all health conditions. HF is no different.2 Here is how you can go about with the intelligent planning of your daily intake of foods to keep heart health under control.
HF and nutrients
General awareness and perception prescribe a diet that has less fat, salt and cholesterol. However, the current scenario is not limited to that observation. A general deficiency of potassium, calcium and magnesium has been noticed in patients with heart failure. Moreover, other micronutrients such as zinc, selenium and thiamine, have been found in reduced quantities among patients with heart failure. Among the various essential nutrients, calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, selenium and zinc play an important role in heart failure.2
Some easy ways to alter your daily intake of foods in order to meet the requirements of the body are provided below:1
- Reduce salt: It is not just about using less salt when cooking, but more about understanding the salt content of the foods that are being cooked and how to cook them. Foods that are low in salt include dairy, eggs, legumes, fresh meats and fish. While cooking, it is recommended that you broil, roast, grill, poach or steam your food to lower the amount of salt you eat. When cooking or boiling your rice, pasta or cereal, avoid adding salt to the water. Another really simple way to cut back on salt is to use other seasoning agents such as herbs, garlic, citric juices and onions. While dining at home or outside, ensure that you do not choose condiments and sauces such as pickles, mustard or tartar sauce, which tend to be high in salt. Instead, use onions, lettuce and tomatoes to add flavour to your food. When you are dining outside, you may ask the chef to minimise the use of salt or eliminate monosodium glutamate (MSG) from your food.
- Eat fresh: Fresh foods, such as fruit and vegetables, require little to no seasoning and can be enjoyed just as they are. They also tend to be versatile and can be made even more flavourful by just adding some herbs. What’s more, they can easily provide the essential micronutrients that your body needs.
- Check labels: A great way to monitor your food habits and choices is by looking at food facts and labels when buying food. Ensure that there is no more than 350 milligrams of sodium per serving of any food you pick. The required nutrients for your body should be present in your food. Always look at the caloric values, as well as the protein, carbohydrates and fat content on the packaging.
Eating wisely does not mean that you cannot eat tasty food and it definitely does not mean that you cannot enjoy dining outside with friends and family. A few simple tips and you are set to cook or order healthy, wholesome and lip-smacking foods that appease your taste buds and bring joy to your heart.
- University of California San Francisco. Diet and congestive heart failure [Internet]. [cited Jan 8 2020]. Available from: https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/diet-and-congestive-heart-failure.
- Rothberg M, Sivalingam K. The new heart failure diet: less salt restriction, more micronutrients. J Gen Intern Med. 2010 Oct;25(10):1136-7. doi: 10.1007/s11606-010-1254-8.