What to eat when you have heart valve disease

If you've been diagnosed with heart valve disease, your doctor may suggest you take a closer look at what you eat. A heart-healthy diet can help keep your heart as healthy as possible with heart disease. But a heart-healthy diet doesn't mean that your food doesn't have to taste good!

Tasty and healthy options

Your doctor may suggest a diet made up of:

  • A variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, such as dark leafy green vegetables, broccoli, carrots and apples
  • Whole grains, such as whole-grain bread and oatmeal
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy products, such as low-fat milk, yogurt or cottage cheese
  • Poultry, such as chicken and turkey
  • Nuts, such as almonds and walnuts

If you don't usually like many vegetables, challenge yourself to grab a new vegetable or fruit at the store. Be open to something you may not have tried before — perhaps beets, which are great when roasted with a little olive oil and salt, or a mango.

Another delicious way to work in more fruits and veggies are smoothies. Try blending up some strawberries, yogurt, half a banana and a handful of spinach.

Or make your own pizza with a whole-wheat or cauliflower pizza crust and veggie toppings. Hop on the tasty trend of avocado toast using whole-wheat bread. Try new recipes with the zucchini or cauliflower from your vegetable drawer. Be creative and have fun with it.

Foods to limit

A heart-healthy diet also means you might need to avoid or limit certain foods. These may include:

  • Added sugars, such as those in sweetened cereals, pastries, drinks and cookies
  • Excess salt (sodium) — generally no more than 2,000 milligrams a day
  • Saturated fats, such as found in fatty meats, and trans fats, often found in bakery items
  • Excess alcohol — generally avoid more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men

Rather than reaching for the salt or butter, try using olive oil, herbs and spices to add flavor to your recipes. Avoid the temptation of a doughnut or cookies by keeping some veggies and hummus or a handful of nuts handy.

Depending on your condition, your doctor may give you other specific instructions to follow for your diet, too.

It may take some time to adjust, but by focusing on heart-healthy food options, you'll help manage your heart valve disease and may even prevent or manage other heart conditions. Try to embrace the healthy diet changes, and hopefully you'll find new food favorites that may help you feel better, too.

Jan. 14, 2020 See more In-depth