Busting the myths related to food after heart surgery

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You should eat homemade food to avoid infections in first few months after surgery.

All you need to know about the common myths related to food after heart surgery. Help you understand what you should eat after open heart surgery.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 85%of all CVD deaths are due to heart attacks and strokes. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are disorders of the heart and blood vessels and include coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease and other conditions. Heart problems are on the rise, owing to the risk factors for developing heart disease like high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol, stress, faulty eating habits, and following a sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise.

Most of these factors are controllable. Yes we can choose to avoid problems related to lifestyles. Food is most important aspect in all societies.

After undergoing heart surgery, your doctor will advise you to opt for a healthy, and a well-balanced diet. This is so because, adhering to healthy eating habits is crucial to your recovery, and to help you protect your heart against further problems. You need to eat well so that your incisions heal well. You should eat homemade food to avoid infections in first few months after surgery.

Most of the people should understand that our Indian homemade food habits are good enough except few things that we must avoid. I do not advice our patient’s drastic changes in their food habits after surgery as then they don’t eat because they don’t like the food as it becomes tasteless. You require to eat certain portions of food to recover from surgery to heal your incisions. Some food you must totally avoid but there are certain myths which can be bothersome. Here, we help you clear your misconceptions regarding the diet after surgery.

Myth: Eating certain ‘super foods’ will help you keep heart diseases at bay

Fact: there is no super food. Yes, you have heard it right! Though, foods like blueberries, pomegranates, walnuts, and fish are good for your ticker. But, they will not prevent you from developing heart disease. Furthermore, certain diets can however help you do so. According to tons of studies, the Mediterranean diet, which consists of whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruit, and monounsaturated fats like olive oil, once in a week fish and or Poultry chicken, has shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. But is you seen our own Indian food culture we eat mostly vegetarian food all week and once in week nonvegeterian which consist of fish or chicken. Red meat you should avoid as it contains loads of cholesterol.

Myth: Fats are not good for you

Fact: Our body requires cholesterol in certain amount daily as most of our hormones are made up from cholesterol. Our brain and some muscles require cholesterol as fuel. So we need cholesterol or fat but the quality and quantity is important. Qualitatively you must avoid fast food artificially made fats, some of the baked food, processed food. Not only this, even high sugar foods like soft drinks etc. have also shown to be bad for heart. Saturated fats, which are derived from animal products like red meat and butter, also tend to raise one’s LDL levels. Whereas, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats may lower your LDL levels when used in place of saturated fats. This simply means the more unprocessed food or natural food you eat will not rise your cholesterol levels. Our daily need for fats should be kept 10% of our energy need which roughly comes about 30-35gms per day.

Myth: Salt is not dangerous as it is a natural product

Fact: Excess salt is more dangerous than fats and sugar. It not only rises your blood pressure but also puts lots of load on your kidneys. You must be aware that salt is naturally found in most of the food items which we opt for. We should not add salt. But, when speaking about processed foods, the amount of salt is often above naturally occurring levels. Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure due to the extra water stored in the body. High blood pressure can put a strain on your heart, arteries, kidneys, and brain. Moreover, it can also increase your risk of heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease. Thus, you must monitor your salt consumption, and eat foods which contain less amount of salt. Also, speak to your expert regarding the amount of should you should eat per day as going overboard is a strict no-no.


Take-away message: Eat well, sleep well and exercise well after open heart surgery. Avoid oily fried junk foods. Control the quantity of food. The Quantity of food is also important as the quality of food. Do not fall prey to diet fads. Our Indian eating habits are reasonably satisfactory. Try to eat homemade food all the time while recovering from surgery. Restrict your fat and salt intake. Likewise, cut down on alcohol and quit smoking and you should only follow healthy habits to keep your ticker in top shape, and stay hale and hearty! 


Dr Bipeenchandra Bhamre, Cardio-Thoracic Surgeon, Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre,  Mumbai


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