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A healthy diet plays an important role in weight control. It also helps in controlling the insulin and cholesterol levels, and the various nutrients obtained from it help in strengthening the body systems. A healthy body and mind go hand in hand and both are required to fight any type of a disease. Following a balanced diet for a healthy heart is essential for everyone, but it is crucial for patients who are about to undergo or have undergone a cardiac surgery. Utmost care should be taken to avoid further complications. Adopting proper nutritional habits is crucial for recovery after the surgery, even if you had not given it much of a thought in the past. A healthful diet followed after an open heart surgery promotes faster recovery which again helps in avoiding further health complexities. Patients should religiously follow the doctor's instructions and advice regarding the dietary alterations and lifestyle changes.

A Few Essential Diet Tips
  • Alcohol and smoking should be avoided.
  • Herbs, instead of salt, can be used for flavoring various dishes.
  • Good carbohydrates like whole-wheat versions of bread and pasta should be included in the nutriment.
  • The nourishment to be followed before the surgery should include healthy foods that are low in salt, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
  • A diet with less than 2000 milligrams of sodium per day is suggested before the surgery.
  • Fatty dressings, sauces, and butter should be replaced with low-fat salad dressings and unsalted margarine.
  • Avoid the intake of chicken with skin.
  • Instead of vegetable oil, use olive or canola oil for cooking.
  • Heart patients should eat lots of fresh or frozen vegetables. They should avoid canned vegetables as it might contain added salt.
  • Instead of fatty cuts of meat, lean cuts of pork and beef should be included. Red meat should be completely avoided.
  • For vegetarian heart patients, tofu, dried beans, unsalted peanut butter, and unsalted nuts help in providing the necessary amount of protein.
  • Dressings and sauces which contain high sodium and fat content should be replaced with natural herbs in order to add flavor to the dishes.
  • Food items such as fruits or fruit juices, whether fresh, canned, or frozen, should not contain added sugar.
  • The nutriment plan varies from patient to patient, as patients with other medical conditions, such as diabetes may need to modify their plans further to include foods low in sugar.
  • As far as possible, beverages containing caffeine should be avoided. Instead, patients can have unsweetened fruit juices as well as low-sodium vegetable juices, lemonade, and soy milk.
  • Fresh or frozen fish can be included in the pre-surgery diet. Fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help in lowering the cholesterol levels. Fried fish should be avoided and having grilled fish should be encouraged.
  • High-fat dairy products and cooking oils should be strictly avoided. To obtain the necessary calcium, low-fat versions of yogurt and cheese, such as skim mozzarella can be had by the patient who is about to undergo the surgery.
  • A heart healthy Mediterranean diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish can reduce the risk of death due to a heart disease. Therefore, it is recommended for patients prior to their surgery.
After the surgery, for the first 1 or 2 days the required energy will be acquired only through saline. Then gradually, the patient will be allowed to drink water or other beverages. At that time, zero calorie beverages preferably green tea can be given. When the patient is allowed to eat solid food, small meals should be consumed every two or three hours. It would be better if the carb intake is initially limited to only fruits and vegetables. Within a week after the surgery, patients may have fruits and vegetables along with every meal. They can have lean proteins and should consume foods containing plant stanols. Along with fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, etc., can then be consumed as a part of high-fiber diet which help in lowering the bad cholesterol levels.

Cardiac surgery is a frightening procedure. Exercise and healthy eating are the only two ways to keep your heart healthy. A balanced diet gives the necessary strength to face the surgery and also helps in a speedy recovery. If you want to stay away from the cardiologist's office for the rest of your life, you should religiously follow the diet recommended by the physician. Also, before you start exercising, do remember to talk to your health care provider.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.