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Foods to favor and those to avoid to prevent heart failure

The main sources are plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and beans. Moderate amounts of dairy products and fish are also beneficial. A diet that can help prevent or manage heart failure also excludes certain foods. Experts recommend limiting the consumption of salty foods and those high in saturated fat, such as sausages and fatty cuts of red meat.

4 types of foods to prevent or manage heart failure

A varied and quality diet can help prevent poor outcomes in people with heart failure. A 2018 study looked at the effect of diet on people with this condition. It found that people with deficiencies in seven or more micronutrients were almost twice as likely to be hospitalized and die as people with few deficiencies.


Micronutrients are made up of vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C. Micronutrient deficiencies are usually caused by not consuming enough high-quality foods, which are mostly plant foods.

1 Fibers

In addition to a high content of micronutrients, plant foods are rich in fiber. Fiber is also important for a heart-healthy diet. High fiber foods include:

fruits, such as blackberries, raspberries, pears, and oranges
vegetables, including chickpeas
tree nuts, such as almonds, pecans, and pistachios
whole grains, such as brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, and 100% whole grain bread
legumes, such as beans and peas

2 Fish

Moderate amounts of fish may also benefit heart health, as fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids slow down the growth of plaque in the arteries, among other things. The AHA recommends eating 2 servings of fish per week. Fatty varieties, such as salmon and trout, are particularly beneficial.

3 Dairy products

Experts also advise consuming moderate amounts of dairy products. According to a 2018 article, recent research indicates that full-fat dairy products have higher nutrient bioavailability than low-fat versions. Bioavailability refers to the body’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrients. The study authors found that fermented milk products, such as yogurt and cheese, are beneficial for heart health.

4 The Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is not a specific diet but a diet that emphasizes the consumption of vegetables, fruits and legumes, as well as a moderate consumption of fish and dairy products. A 2016 study of more than 37,000 men suggests the Mediterranean diet may have value for people with heart failure. The authors found a strong link between following the Mediterranean diet closely and reducing the risk of heart failure and death from the disease.

3 Types of Foods and Drinks to Avoid

Doctors advise limiting salt intake, avoiding foods with saturated fats and consuming moderate amounts of alcohol.

1 Salty foods

According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, avoiding excessive salt intake is important to reduce the risk of heart failure.

Follow these tips to reduce salt intake:

– Eat large amounts of vegetables and fruits, which naturally contain small amounts of salt.
– Use herbs and spices, such as onion, garlic, and sodium-free herbal seasonings, to flavor foods.
– Limit the use of condiments, such as ketchup and mustard.
– Avoid fast foods and processed foods.
– Choose salt-free snacks, such as carrot sticks and unsalted almonds.
– Check the sodium content on food labels when shopping.
– Try to cook at home and avoid eating out to treat yourself occasionally.

2 Saturated fats and fried foods

Eating foods high in saturated fat or trans fat can contribute to heart disease. Trans fats are a type of oil that turns into solid fat during food processing.

Foods containing saturated fat include:

– pieces of meat with high fat content
– butter
– coconut oil
– Palm oil
ice cream

Foods containing trans fatty acids can include:

– fried foods
– cookies, pies and crackers bought in stores

3 Alcohol

In a 2015 meta-analysis, researchers found that people who limit their alcohol intake to moderate amounts have a lower risk of heart failure. It is better to limit your daily alcohol consumption to a maximum of two glasses, and for women to a single glass at most.

What is heart failure and what causes it?

In heart failure, the heart does not pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. It can affect the right side, the left side, or both sides of the heart. Right-sided heart failure involves the inability of the heart to pump enough blood to the lungs to collect oxygen. In left heart failure, the heart is unable to pump enough oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the body. Heart failure can be caused by conditions that overwork, damage, and weaken the heart. When this happens, the body releases certain substances into the blood that have a toxic effect on the heart.

Its clinical picture is as follows:

– high blood pressure
– diabetes
– ischemic heart disease, where plaque builds up inside the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke
– other heart diseases

Lifestyle practices that promote heart health

While healthy eating plays a vital role in promoting heart health, other lifestyle habits can also contribute. People can try the following things:

– stop smoking, if necessary
– exercise regularly
– learn to manage stress
– get enough sleep
– maintaining a moderate weight

Foods that help prevent or manage heart failure include micronutrient-rich food products, which nourish the whole body, including the heart. They come mainly from foods of plant origin. The Mediterranean diet is an example of a heart-healthy diet, as it emphasizes plant-based foods while including moderate amounts of fish and dairy products. One can also reduce one’s risk of heart failure by adopting certain changes into his lifestyle, such as quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep each night.


Eating fish twice a week reduces heart stroke risk. (2018).
Fish and omega-3 fatty acids. (2017).

Heart failure. (nd).

Heart-healthy foods: Shopping list. (2020).

How to prevent heart disease. (2015).

Larsson, SC, et al. (2015). Alcohol consumption and risk of heart failure: A dose–response meta-analysis of prospective studies.

Lennie, TA, et al. (2018). Micronutrient deficiency independently predicts time to event in patients with heart failure.

Lordan, R., et al. (2018). Dairy fats and cardiovascular disease: Do we really need to be concerned?

Nutrient-rich diet may help heart failure patients avoid hospital, death. (2018).

Prevent heart disease. (2020).

Tektonidis, TG, et al. (2016). Adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with reduced risk of heart failure in men.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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