What You Should Eat if You Suffered a Heart Attack

A healthy diet, regular physical activity, and quitting smoking may help prevent heart problems. In this article, discover the foods you should include in your diet if you suffered a heart attack or want to prevent one.
What You Should Eat if You Suffered a Heart Attack

Last update: 21 October, 2019

Experts talk a lot about the diets people should follow to stay healthy. But what diet do you have to follow if you suffered a heart attack or want to prevent another cardiac event?

Stress, poor diet, and lack of rest directly influence heart health. Therefore, after a heart attack, you must acquire new healthier life habits, such as quitting smoking, exercising, and changing your diet. After a heart attack, the patient must comply with their doctor’s orders to recover and stay healthy.

In this article, we’ll give some tips on foods you should include in your diet.

Heart attack and healthy habits

According to the World Health Organization, more than 17 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2012. Also, they state that 80% of heart attacks and strokes are preventable.

A healthy diet, regular physical activity, and quitting toxic habits may help you avoid episodes that endanger your life. You should include the following foods in your diet if you suffered a heart attack or want to prevent one.

Post heart attack diet

Fruits in a heart-shaped bowl and a stethoscope.

After a heart attack, risk factors such as cholesterol, glucose, or blood pressure should be closely monitored.

Patients who suffered a heart attack should have low blood cholesterol and glucose levels, as well as keep their blood pressure in check. They can achieve this with medication, exercise, and a healthy diet.

The healthiest diet for these patients is the Mediterranean diet. This is because it’s rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fish, plus some portions of grilled lean meat. If you suffered a heart attack, you should prepare everything with extra virgin olive oil and not too much salt (you can replace this condiment with aromatic herbs and spices).

You should only consume low-fat dairy products and eat legumes twice a week.

What to eat if you suffered a heart attack

Fruits and vegetables

According to the Spanish Heart Foundation, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables increases potassium and magnesium levels, which protect the heart from cardiac dysrhythmia. Also, this diet helps lower sodium levels, which are related to blood pressure.

Extra virgin olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil.

This heart-healthy food is the foundation of the Mediterranean diet.

Olive oil has significant health benefits. Consuming four tablespoons of olive oil a day, along with a healthy and balanced Mediterranean diet, lowers the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.


Nuts are an exceptional source of healthy nutrients and are rich in monounsaturated fats. In particular, walnuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a polyunsaturated fat linked to heart health.

They also contain L-arginine (an amino acid that helps produce nitric oxide, which, in turn, helps regulate blood pressure) and phytosterols (plant compounds that help lower cholesterol by blocking its absorption in the intestines).


All types of tea contain catechin, an element that helps maintain healthy blood pressure by inhibiting the synthesis of cholesterol and preventing blood clots. They also contain quercetin, which improves the functionality of blood vessels.

Oily fish

Eat Oily fish if you suffered a heart attack

Like olive oil, fish is rich in heart-healthy fats that protect the heart.

After suffering a heart attack, you should cut out saturated fats from your diet. However, you should never forget about unsaturated sats. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, or trout contain these fats.

Whole grains and legumes

Bran, which is the shell that protects cereal grain, helps slow down the absorption of sugars and lowers blood cholesterol, according to the Spanish Heart Foundation.

On the other hand, legumes are an exceptional source of vegetable protein, fiber, and minerals.

Foods you shouldn’t eat after suffering a heart attack



You should cut any food that contains cholesterol or trans fats out of your diet if you suffered a heart attack.

After a heart attack, you should follow a heart-healthy diet. Thus, you should avoid foods that contain saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol, such as whole milk, butter, fatty cuts of meat, or sugar.

You should also avoid sausages and cured meats because they contain harmful fats and a lot of sodium, baked goods (rich in trans fats), and precooked foods.

Finally, remember that it’s very important to incorporate moderate exercise into your routine. Consult your doctor on the best exercise options for you. After a heart attack, physical activity is a great ally to improve your heart health.

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  • Li D., Wang R., Huang J., Cai Q., et al., Effects and mechanisms of tea regulation blood pressure: evidences and promises. Nutrients, 2019.