Written by Dr. Rob Kachko. The following are some general guidelines on cardiovascular health, specifically as it relates to those with Heart Failure.
***Note: It is important that you do not undertake any of the below recommendations without the consent of your physician. In addition, please note that these recommendations are not individualized for you, and your physician will work with you to optimize your individual care plan.
The Mediterranean diet has shown a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular related factors including lipid levels, insulin resistance, hypertension, and obesity. This is a mostly plant-based diet which is high in fiber, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. There is particular emphasis on monounsaturated fats including olive oil and foods high in EPA/DHA Omega 3s, mostly from fish. Some specific suggestions include:
Whole Grains: Carbohydrates should be eaten only in the complex form (as opposed to “simple” carbs). Examples are whole oats, Brown rice, millet, buckwheat, barley, quinoa, amaranth, whole wheat, spelt, kamut, teff.
Vegetables can be consumed in an unlimited amount, with special attention paid to dark leafy green vegetables. Strive to consume abundant amounts of dark leafy green vegetables, and at least one type of orange, yellow, and red vegetable/fruit per day.
Protein: Fish is consumed regularly (daily), and poultry/eggs are consumed in moderate amounts. Fish: Salmon, cod, trout, tuna, mackerel, ahi, etc. Limit consumption of tuna to 1-2 times per week due to mercury content. Fresh salmon is an especially good source of healthy oil called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Limit consumption of red meat to several times per month. In addition, limit intake of saturated fat to 5% of daily calories.
Oils: Olive oil is the principal source of fat, and can be added to salads. Aim to consume expeller pressed or cold pressed organic Extra Virgin Olive in its raw form. For cooking purposes, regular olive oil should be used because it has a higher smoke point than extra virgin olive oil.
Additional dietary recommendations:
• Aim to limit salt intake to 1800mg/day
• Discuss how much water you should be consuming with your physician
• Avoid alcohol and non-prescription drugs
CoQ10: this is an essential nutrient for the health of your heart muscle, as it plays a vital role in energy production in your mitochondria. It is also a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger.
Taurine: This amino acid helps to protect the heart and to improve the symptoms related to heart failure.
Propionyl-L-carnitine: This nutrient is cardioprotective, vasodilatory, lipid lowering, and improves energy production of the heart.
Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha): This herb relaxes blood vessels, increases the strength of the heart muscle, and controls heart rate.
Make sure that you have undergone an evaluation by your cardiologist regarding your exercise program. Once you have been cleared for exercise, you should aim to exercise 3-5 times per week for at least 30 minutes. Make sure that you warm up for 5-10 minutes before exercising, followed by 20 minutes of exercise, and ending with 5-10 minutes of a cool down. Walking for 40 minutes per day also has benefits for your heart and overall health.
Consider adding meditation or other forms of relaxation to your daily routine to minimize stress. Meditation is the practice of contemplation or reflection in a relaxing environment with focus on deep breathing. Research has shown that meditation programs may reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and reduce heart attack risk.