Cardiac diets are extensively used and prescribed in most hospitals for patients with heart disease, hypertension, myocardial infarction, hyperlipidemia, and dyslipidemia. A cardiac diet may be employed as a part of a health regimen to either treat or prevent cardiovascular disease. It will generallyinclude foods that are classified as healthy because of their extensive nutritional benefits.
A cardiac diet will basically aim to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fibre while lowering the consumption of fats and sodium which have both been prominently associated with the development of heart disease. This health plan is often modified in the long-term based on the goals of the diet or the patient’s diagnosis. After a patient has been treated using this diet recommendation he or she will normally be referred to a dietician who will help him or her to maintain this diet.
Normally a cardiac or “heart healthy” diet as it has been deemed may be administered with the objective of restricting the intake of fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sometimes caffeine. In most instances, it will follow the guidelines of the National Cholesterol Education Program which has issued the following recommendations:
Fiber 20-30 grams per day.
Trans fat “kept at a low intake.”
Carbohydrates 50-60% of daily calories.
Total fat 25-35% of daily calories.
Saturated fat less than 7% of daily calories.
Monounsaturated fats up to 20% of daily calories.
Polyunsaturated fats up to 10% of daily calories.
Cholesterol less than 200 milligrams per day.
Dietary fats, specifically saturated and trans fats, may actually contribute to elevating an individual’s overall cholesterol levels, low-density lipoproteins (LDL), and triglycerides which can encourage the development and accumulation of plaque within the blood vessel walls. This build-up of plaque will ultimately lead to a reduction in the size of the blood vessel lumen. Saturated fats are predominantly found in animal products. This kind of fat has been linked to an increase of low-density lipoprotein levels (LDL), which are strongly correlated with a heightened risk of heart disease. Unsaturated fats differ from saturated fats because they have double bonds. They can be substituted in place of saturated fats and are preferred because they help lower the LDL levels. Cardiac diets are also low sodium diets. Sodium has been found to elevate blood pressure, and has an additional negative effect on the diuretic properties of certain medications. Sodium is generally restricted to 2,000-4,000 mg per day, in relation to the patients diagnosis and medical regimen. Many cardiac diets do not only inhibit sodium and fats but also caffeine. This is enacted because caffeine is a stimulant and may affect the deteriorated condition of the heart.
Basically a cardiac diet considers both the advantages of restricting certain types of foods as well as increasing the consumption of healthy foods and nutrients.