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Nutrition Guidelines

Eat a heart healthy diet. All heart and vascular patients should follow a heart healthy diet. Diet and a healthy lifestyle works with your medications to provide you the greatest cardiovascular protection.

If you have other conditions such as diabetes or kidney failure, you may also need to follow other guidelines. In this case, it is strongly recommended that you make an appointment with a registered dietitian to help educate you on how to follow an individualized healthy eating plan.

More information on Nutrition

Diet to Help Recovery

Good nutrition is necessary for healing. During the healing process, the body needs greater amounts of calories, protein, vitamins A and C, and sometimes, zinc (if you have zinc deficiency).

Power Foods to Help Wound Healing

  • Protein
    • Lean beef, pork, poultry (skinless), and any fish
    • Beans, lentils, split peas (cholesterol and saturated fat free)
    • Fat free or low-fat milk or yogurt (Greek yogurt is higher in protein)
  • Vitamin C
    • Citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, pineapple
    • Peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, tomato
  • Vitamin A
    • Carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, dark green leafy vegetables, butternut squash
    • Cantaloupe, dried apricots
  • Zinc
    • Fortified dairy products, cereal
    • Lean red meat
    • Sesame and pumpkin seeds

Five tips if you are not eating well

  1. Eat 5-6 small meals a day. Instead of trying to eat 3 big meals a day, try eating smaller meals and snacks between meals to get enough nutrition.
  2. Some foods that taste good during recovery are not nutritious. Try replacing them with foods that are good sources of calories, protein, vitamins and minerals.
  3. If you experience taste change after heart surgery, try a variety of foods to find out what works for you. You may find that cold foods and foods with little odor work best.
  4. Use a prepared nutritional drink/supplement if nothing else works. These are available at grocery stores, drug stores, and discount stores. The drinks vary in taste, so if you don’t like the first one, try another brand. Also, adding milk or ice cream may make the supplement tastier. Try blending with berries, plain low-fat Greek yogurt, and ice to make a smoothie.
  5. Take a multivitamin if you are eating less than recommended amounts during meals and snacks.

If you have diabetes or high blood sugar

Continue to closely monitor your blood sugar levels. Having good control of blood sugar levels will help with would healing and may prevent infection. You may need to visit your doctor and a registered dietitian to help control blood sugar through diet and medication.

Make an appointment with a registered dietitian if your appetite remains poor, your wound is not healing properly, you are losing weight or do not understand your diet guidelines. To make an appointment with a registered dietitian in Preventive Cardiology call: 216-444-9353.

For more information: See your Guide to Cardiac Surgery binder. If you have any questions or concerns, please call the Heart and Vascular Institute Post Discharge Phone Line at the number you were provided or your doctor’s office.

This information is about care at Cleveland Clinic and may include instructions specific to Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute patients only. Please consult your physician for information pertaining to your care.

Reviewed: 1/13

Talk to a Nurse: Mon. - Fri., 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (ET)

Call a Heart & Vascular Nurse locally 216.445.9288 or toll-free 866.289.6911.

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This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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