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Why should I change my diet after a heart attack?

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Making changes to your diet can help reduce your risk of having another heart attack.

Other lifestyle changes, such as drinking less alcohol, taking regular exercise, giving up smoking (if you smoke) and maintaining a healthy weight can also help.

Mediterranean diet

There's evidence to show that eating a Mediterranean-style diet can reduce your risk of having another heart attack.

To make your diet more Mediterranean you can:

  • eat more fruit, salad and vegetables
  • eat more wholegrains, nuts and seeds
  • eat more fish
  • eat less meat
  • choose products made from vegetable and plant oils, such as olive oil, rather than dairy products, such as butter and cheese

Oily fish

You should eat at least 2 portions of fish a week, including a portion of oily fish.

Oily fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent heart disease.

Examples of oily fish include:

  • herring
  • sardines
  • mackerel
  • salmon
  • trout
  • fresh tuna

One portion is about 140g, which is equivalent to a small tin of oily fish or a small fillet of fresh fish.

Read more about oily fish.

Healthier ways to cook

Don't fry or roast food in fat. Instead, prepare and cook your food using healthy methods such as:

  • steaming
  • poaching
  • baking
  • stir-frying
  • making a casserole
  • using the microwave

Buttery, cheesy or creamy sauces tend to be high in fat. Instead, try adding flavour to your sauces using spices, herbs and lemon juice.

Foods to avoid

Avoid foods that are high in:

  • saturated fat (this is the current guidance, although further studies on saturated fat are needed)
  • salt
  • sugar

Foods containing high amounts of fat, salt or sugar include:

  • fried foods
  • sweets and confectionery
  • takeaways
  • processed foods
  • pre-packaged foods

Read more about healthy eating.

Supplements to avoid

Don't take beta-carotene supplements (beta-carotene is a type of vitamin A). Research has shown that taking these supplements may increase your risk of having another heart attack.

Also, taking vitamin C, vitamin E or folic acid supplements won't help prevent another heart attack. There's no evidence to suggest that taking any of these supplements will have any benefit.

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Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.