It is advisable for someone with coronary artery disease to avoid foods high in saturated and trans fats. They can also reduce their sugar and salt intake and choose low fat alternatives for dairy products.

Coronary artery disease (CAD) describes a type of heart disease that can occur when a buildup of fatty substances in the coronary arteries block or interrupt the blood supply to the heart.

To help support heart health, people can make lifestyle changes, such as altering their eating plans. This can include avoiding foods high in fat and reducing sugar intake. Additionally, a person can consider consuming more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean forms of protein.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of a heart-healthy eating plan for individuals with CAD.

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CAD is the most common type of heart disease in the United States, affecting approximately 18.2 million adults. Sometimes, a heart attack can be the first sign of CAD.

If a person has CAD, they may be able to improve their heart health by making some lifestyle changes, including following a heart-healthy eating pattern. Individuals may be able to reduce their cholesterol levels by eating foods that are high in fiber and low in saturated and trans fats, reducing salt, and limiting sugar intake.

Difficulty eating a balanced diet is a common cause of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the United States. These can lead to various forms of heart disease, including CAD.

Following a heart-healthy eating plan can help a person with CAD to keep their blood pressure low and reduce cholesterol levels. This can reduce the amount of buildup in the coronary arteries, which can lead to a heart attack.

Foods a person with CAD needs to aim to consume for a heart-healthy eating plan can include:

  • fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens, broccoli, bananas, and oranges
  • wholegrains, including brown rice and oatmeal
  • foods high in protein, including eggs, lean meats, fish, nuts, and seeds
  • low or no fat dairy products, including yogurt and cheese
  • foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, including canola oil, olive oil, nuts such as walnuts, avocados, and tofu
  • foods high in fiber, including lentils

A doctor may recommend a heart-healthy eating program known as Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). Studies show that following the DASH eating plan can reduce the risk of developing heart disease, including CAD.

Read more about the DASH eating plan.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), eating foods with high saturated fat and trans fat content may contribute to heart disease, including CAD.

A person with CAD needs to try and avoid certain foods that can increase their cholesterol levels, blood pressure, or risk of obesity, including:

  • foods high in saturated and trans fats such as processed meat products, fried foods, fatty cuts of meat, butter, and cream
  • foods with a high sugar content such as sweetened soda, energy drinks, cakes, cookies, and candies
  • foods with a high salt content such as processed foods, premade sauces, and instant products such as noodles

A heart-healthy eating plan limits foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, sugar, and salt. It also includes some low fat dairy products, lean sources of protein, and plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Some heart-healthy eating tips for a person with CAD can include:

  • eating a variety of vegetables that are fresh, frozen, or from no salt added cans
  • choosing whole grain versions of products such as bread, bagels, rice, pasta, and noodles
  • choosing whole grain oats instead of instant
  • eating a variety of fresh, frozen, or dried fruits and avoiding fruits canned in syrup
  • choosing low or no fat dairy versions of milk, cheese, cream, and yogurt
  • choosing lean cuts of beef and pork and avoiding eating chicken and turkey skin
  • eating legumes such as beans and peas
  • choosing liquid plant oils such as canola, olive, or corn instead of tropical oils or oils derived from animal fats
  • choosing low sugar dessert options such as low fat frozen yogurt and low fat ice cream

Click for more healthy eating tips.

There are several ways a person with CAD can improve their overall heart health, alongside following a heart-healthy eating plan, including:

  • Maintaining a moderate weight: This can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which can help reduce the complications of CAD.
  • Regular physical activity: A regular exercise plan can help a person maintain a moderate weight and reduce the complications of CAD.
  • Managing stress: Stress can increase blood pressure and over time, may be a risk factor for CAD.
  • Quitting smoking: Smoking may increase the risk of a heart attack and can increase blood pressure.
  • Getting enough sleep: Over time, a lack of sleep can increase the risk of developing CAD and raise blood pressure.

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a common heart condition. A person with CAD can follow a heart-healthy eating plan to help keep their blood pressure and cholesterol levels low. This can help avoid a buildup of fatty acids in the coronary arteries that may lead to a heart attack.

A heart-healthy eating plan may include avoiding saturated and trans fats, limiting sugar and salt intake, choosing low fat alternatives, and eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Other heart-healthy lifestyle choices can include regular physical activity, quitting smoking if applicable, and maintaining a moderate weight.