If you’ve recently had a heart attack, you are a survivor. Congratulations on your strength and courage as you embark on a path toward a healthier heart and, ultimately, a healthier life.
Surviving a heart attack can be both terrifying and isolating. The road to recovery is long and often painful as sufferers make sweeping lifestyle and dietary changes designed to help them come out of the experience heart-strong. But heart attack survivors are not alone. According to the Center for Disease Control, 735,000 Americans have heart attacks every year. Of these, over 525,000 are first heart attacks. Doctors and dieticians agree that the best way to prevent a second heart attack is to change diet, exercise, and other habits.
Most heart attack survivors come away with the experience with a new understanding of heart-healthy foods and the best intentions for a healthful new lifestyle but slip back into old habits once they’re back in their old routines, according to Dr. Ariel Soffer, lead cardiologist for The Fresh Diet. One way to change your habits is to plan ahead. For example, if you know you’re going someplace where there might be temptation to fall back into old habits, like a restaurant or party, make sure you know the menu beforehand and can map out your meal.
“The biggest factor in staying healthy is translating what you now understand into healthful daily decisions,” Dr. Soffer says. “Plan out your meals ahead of time so as to reduce the risk of impulsive mistakes. Even one cheeseburger can increase the cholesterol and harmful by products in your bloodstream even temporarily.”
So if you’ve recently had a heart attack and you’re ready to get healthy, now’s the time to start evaluating problem foods on a case-by-case basis and try to take them in moderation or replace them with healthier alternatives. We’ve listed some foods that are most often cited by professionals as problematic for heart patients, so click through and then get busy on your journey to a healthy life!
Plain popcorn actually has more health benefits than most snacks; it provides fiber and antioxidants. However, most microwave brands contain butter and loads of salt, which adds a lot of fat and sodium. So snack away, but check the label and make sure that all you’re getting is popcorn.
While you don’t have to swear off cheese forever, Lori Williams says that patients who’ve recently suffered a heart attack should think of cheese as a treat to be enjoyed in moderation. “Foods high in saturated fats, such as cheese, should be eaten sparingly,” says Williams.