Home Heart Disease Enlarged Heart (Cardiomegaly)

9 Best Diet Tips For An Enlarged Heart

notebook with images of a heart and weights as a metaphor for diet plan for enlarged heart

An enlarged heart or cardiomegaly is a medical condition where the heart fails to pump the right amount of blood that is needed by the body. It is more of a symptom of another medical condition rather than a condition itself. The symptoms of an enlarged heart include palpitation, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, arrhythmia, cough, and edema. An enlarged heart may lead to complications such as blood clots, cardiac arrest, and heart failure. Treating an enlarged heart includes management of the underlying cause through medication, surgery, and changes in lifestyle. It should also be followed by a restricted diet to help alleviate the symptoms that come with an enlarged heart.

1.Low-Fat Diet

Decreasing the intake of fat can help an individual lose weight, maintain normal cholesterol and blood pressure levels, control heart problems, and prevent the symptoms of an enlarged heart to worsen. Individuals with excess weight are at a high risk of having heart diseases especially those that are associated with an enlarged heart. You can reduce the symptoms of an enlarged heart if you limit your sodium and fat intake. Avoid consuming trans-fat which is mostly found in the dishes served in fast food chains. Trans-fat increases the levels of cholesterol and blood pressure. Use low cholesterol unsaturated fats instead. Eat lean meat like chicken and turkey without the skin and pork chop without the fat. Refrain from eating fries, potato chips, muffins, and cakes because they contain high fat and sodium. Choose food that is low-fat or fat-free whenever you buy food at the groceries.

2.Low-Salt Diet

It’s important to restrict the daily intake of salt for individuals who are suffering from cardiomegaly or an enlarged heart. Eat a diet that is low in sodium. A heart condition can get worse when eating foods that are salty. Excess sodium in the body can lead to fluid retention which can cause shortness of breath, swelling in the lower extremities, and will make the heart work harder. Limit the intake of salt at less than 2,000 mg per day. Foods that are high in sodium include processed food such as luncheon meat, hot dogs, cheese, chips, salad dressings, crackers, vegetable juice, and pickles. As much as possible, eat foods that are low in sodium such as fresh meat, milk, eggs, poultry, and low sodium cheese.

3.Avoid Processed Foods

Avoid eating processed foods such as frozen foods, hotdogs, corned beef, smoked beef, pizza, pasta, salad dressings, crackers, chips, salted nuts, etc. It’s better to eat home-cooked meals because, in this way, you are aware of the amount of salt that you are consuming on a daily basis. If you eat processed foods, you can reverse its harmful effects by eating foods that are rich in potassium such as bananas, grapes, green leafy vegetables, and tomatoes. If you want to add extra flavor and taste to your meal, you can use herbs as seasoning such as basil, mint leaves, thyme, rosemary, lemon zest, orange. etc.

4.Eat Complex Carbohydrates

An individual with an enlarged heart and with other heart conditions should always have a diet that contains lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. These foods contain a lot of fiber and nutrients that are very crucial to having a healthy heart. Always include complex carbohydrates in your meals such as legumes, barley, oats, etc. to help you maintain normal levels of blood sugar.

5.Low-Sugar Diet

Individuals who are diabetic and have an enlarged heart need to control and closely monitor their blood sugar levels because diabetes can make the symptoms of an enlarged heart much worse. Diabetes is also a risk factor for developing heart diseases. The risk of having heart diseases increases when the levels of blood sugar are not controlled. It’s necessary to eat a diet that is low in carbohydrates and sugar to help keep the blood sugar levels under control. Blood sugar levels can also be controlled by eating fresh vegetables and fruits and also whole grains.

6.Reduce Alcohol Consumption

Bingeing on alcohol or consuming large amounts of liquor when you have an enlarged heart is not good. Drinking alcohol increases an individual’s risk of having an enlarged heart and heart failure because it can increase the level of triglyceride, elevate blood pressure levels, cause arrhythmia or irregular heartbeats, and is toxic for the heart. Excess alohol is bad for the heart as it can increase the risk of having complications of an enlarged heart. Nevertheless, consuming just the right amount of alcohol is actually good for the heart. According to studies, women can drink a glass of alcohol while men can drink up to two glasses of alcohol. These are the moderate amounts of alcohol for each gender type.

7.Use Smart Cooking Techniques

Instead of deep frying foods, try to switch the manner of preparing your food by either steaming, baking, or grilling them. Deep frying allows the food to absorb trans-fat from the oil used in frying which is not good for the heart.

8.Increase Unsaturated Fatty Acids

It is not really important to totally eliminate fats from your diet and it will also be quite challenging as most of the good food that we enjoy eating contain a lot of fat. To make up for it, include foods that are rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, nuts, flaxseed, soybean oil, canola oil, or extra virgin oil in your diet. Use olive oil in cooking food.  Fish oil supplements are also good for the heart. Unsaturated fatty acids are healthy fats that can help your heart work in a healthy and better way. They help reduce the risk of having heart failure.

9.Increase Healthy Protein

Increasing healthy protein in your diet can help your heart function normally. A lot of food contain protein such as milk, beans, eggs, and also meat. Although meat contains protein, it also contains fat and some other ingredients that are not good for the heart especially for those individuals who are suffering from an enlarged heart. Opt for other sources of protein to be able to fulfil your body’s daily requirement for protein. Protein from soy products is a good alternative. Broccoli and beans are vegetables that are rich in protein.