Top 15 Foods to Avoid After a Heart Attack

A heart attack is the consequence of a complete obstruction of a coronary artery or one of its branches. It produces irreversible damage to the heart muscle, consisting of necrosis or tissue death in that area of the heart, which is why deciding which foods to avoid after a heart attack is significant.

Foods to avoid after a heart attack: Image of man holding his chest in pain

A combination of these mechanisms produces coronary artery obstruction:

  • Arteriosclerosis, progressive narrowing, and hardening of the artery
  • Thrombosis, or the development of a blood clot in the interior of the narrowed artery, closing the blood flow completely

Diet is essential concerning a heart attack for two reasons:

  1. Certain foods serve a defensive role, while others encourage it.
  2. Following a diet limiting or exempting the foods to avoid after a heart attack can contribute decisively to rehabilitation and the prevention of another attack.

List of foods to avoid after a heart attack

MEAT: Meat consumption increases the risk of a fatal heart attack. A study carried out in Finland found that those that ate beef four or more times a week are 38% greater risk of dying from myocardial infarction. Another study conducted in California shows that eating meat frequently presents triple the risk of heart attack than those who do not include meat in their diet.

IRON: The more heme iron (that found in meat) consumed, the higher the risk of a heart attack. The nonheme iron found in plant-based foods does not have this undesirable effect.

SATURATED FAT: You can find this fat in animal-based foods such as milk, eggs, and meat. Its consumption increases cholesterol levels, promotes the progression of arteriosclerosis, and significantly raises the risk of a heart attack.

CHOLESTEROL: The higher the blood cholesterol level, the greater the risk of a heart attack. Consumption of cholesterol and saturated fat raises blood cholesterol levels. You can find cholesterol in animal-based foods (milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, and meat).

SAUSAGES: Sausages are on the top of the list of foods to avoid after a heart attack because of their high-fat content and lack of antioxidant vitamins.

HAM: Even though it may be lean, its consumption raises the risk of coronary disease, according to a study directed at the University of Milan in Italy.

TRANS FATTY ACIDS: These are as harmful to the heart as saturated fatty acids. You can find these fats in fried foods, margarine, and vegetable oils, which are partially hydrogenated to make them semisolid. The baking industry uses this type of vegetable fat, so their products contain trans fatty acids. Regular consumption promotes arteriosclerosis and heart attack.

Foods that cause heart disease: Image of margarine being spread on a slice of bread using a butter knife
Foods to avoid after a heart attack: Margarine

MARGARINE: Margarine contains unsaturated vegetable oils. However, a heart-healthy diet must use margarine prudently, or better still, avoid it. Margarine contains trans-fatty acids that are just as harmful as saturated fats and promote arteriosclerosis, which is why margarine finds itself on the list of foods to avoid after a heart attack.

BUTTER: Among dairy products, butter is the most related to the risk of coronary disease. It needs to be completely absent on any heart-healthy foods list. Butter is among the worst foods that cause heart disease.

FRIED FOODS: Oils used in frying form trans fatty acids that promote arteriosclerosis. Frying with butter is even worse since it involves even more saturated fat that is harmful to the arteries.

MILK: Various studies show that regular milk drinking is a coronary disease risk factor. Not only the fat but also the proteins and lactose in milk are prejudicial for the heart.

DAIRY PRODUCTS: Those who are at risk of coronary disease or those who have suffered a heart attack should generally avoid dairy products. Only use nonfat yogurt and low-fat, unsalted cottage cheese in moderation.

List of foods to avoid after a heart attack: Image of two glasses filled with alcohol
foods to avoid after a heart attack: Alcohol

ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES: Alcohol is toxic to the heart, and its consumption causes disturbances in its function from arrhythmia to myocardiopathy (degeneration of the heart muscle). Consuming more than 2 glasses of wine a day is harmful to the heart. Only in very moderate amounts (less than two drinks a day) wine may reduce heart attack risk according to certain epidemiological studies. However, even if this were true, alcoholic beverages present other serious drawbacks for other organs.

WHITE SUGAR: Although its consumption is not directly related to the risk of coronary disease, there is such risk associated with refined products used in (pastries, sweets, etc.).

SODIUM: The more salt consumed, the higher the risk of high blood pressure, which promotes coronary disease. Sodium is among the foods to avoid after a heart attack or limit as much as possible.

REFERENCES

  • George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power. Trans. Annette Melgosa. Vol. 2. Chai Wan: Editorial Safeliz, 2005. 55, 56, 57. Print. [foods to avoid after a heart attack]

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