Foods to Avoid After Cardiac Bypass

Your heart works hard pumping blood to your organs. Just like the rest of your body, it needs nutrients for good health. Your coronary arteries serve to feed your heart, and your heart uses these arteries to pump blood to its own muscle tissue. You may need cardiac bypass surgery if these arteries become narrowed, preventing your heart muscle from getting the blood it needs. Cardiac bypass surgery allows blood to flow around the clogged arteries, but you must be careful of the foods you eat after undergoing this life-saving surgery.

Sodium--Rich Foods

Many processed foods are also high in sodium and other preservatives. Most of the sodium in the American diet comes from packaged foods. Limiting these foods in your diet will decrease the total sodium that you consume, lowering your chances of developing the high blood pressure that forces your heart to work harder to pump your blood.

Refined Grains

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Refined grains are grains stripped of the most nutritious parts to make them smoother and better tasting. Refined grains contain a fraction of the fiber, vitamins and iron present in whole grains with nothing removed. You should limit refined grains after cardiac bypass surgery because you need the fiber and nutrients of whole grains. Fiber, especially the soluble fiber found in whole grains such as oatmeal, can lower your cholesterol and decrease your risk of heart disease when you eat an otherwise healthy, low fat diet. Replace some of the refined grains in your diet with whole grains to keep your heart healthy.

Fatty Foods

After cardiac bypass surgery, you must be careful of the types and amounts of fat you eat. Avoid trans fats and saturated fats, which contribute to clogged arteries, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. These fats often exist in the same foods, especially baked goods and fried foods. You can find trans fats in donuts, crackers and french fries, while saturated fats are abundant in fatty meats and full-fat dairy products. Stick with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids found in olive oil, almonds, walnuts and avocado. These good fats contribute to a healthy cardiovascular system. Processed foods such as cookies, crackers and baked goods often contain trans fats. Trans fats are man-made fats formed by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats. Trans fats give products a longer shelf life, but they raise your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol, which in turn allows fats to build up inside your arteries and increases your chances of experiencing a cardiovascular event. Although food packages often claim to be free of trans fats, they may legally contain up to 0.5 grams. You must check the ingredients to know for sure. Packaged foods with even small amounts of trans fats will contain partially hydrogenated oils.


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Although known for affecting your liver, too much alcohol can damage your heart as well. Drinking too much alcohol increases your triglycerides, which are fats found in your blood. Excessive alcohol intake can increase your LDL, or bad cholesterol while decreasing your HDL, the good cholesterol. High LDL levels, along with high blood pressure and cardiomyopathy, increase your chances of experiencing cardiovascular issues after cardiac bypass surgery. Alcohol is full of empty calories. If you gravitate toward king sized margaritas or other mixed drinks, you may be consuming lots of excess sugar as well.