After a heart attack, doctors may recommend that a person consumes heart-healthy foods to reduce the risk of recurrence. This can include a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

A doctor may refer a person to a dietitian to help ensure that they are getting enough nutrients. A dietitian can help them create an eating plan full of heart-healthy foods and recommend foods to avoid.

Read on to learn more about diet after a heart attack. This article looks at which foods to eat and avoid, whether a person should take supplements after a heart attack, and more.

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To reduce the risk of recurrence after a person experiences a heart attack, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends being proactive with treatment and taking preventive steps, such as consuming a heart-healthy diet.

While no specific diet can prevent or reduce the risk of another heart attack, the AHA does suggest that the Mediterranean diet and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet may be beneficial.

The Mediterranean diet involves focusing on fruits and vegetables and limiting the intake of red meat.

Learn more about the Mediterranean diet.

The DASH diet focuses on:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains
  • skinless poultry and fish
  • nuts
  • legumes
  • low fat dairy

Learn more about the DASH diet.

It is best for a person to contact their doctor for advice before making any significant dietary changes or if following a vegetarian or plant-based diet.

Doctors will typically recommend that a person consumes heart-healthy foods. This may be particularly important if a person has had a heart attack or is trying to prevent a heart attack.


According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a heart-healthy eating plan may include vegetables such as:


A person may choose to consume fruits such as:

Whole grains

Whole grains for heart health can include:

  • plain oatmeal
  • whole grain bread
  • whole grain tortillas
  • brown rice


Consuming low fat or fat-free dairy products may be more beneficial than consuming full-fat alternatives. This can include low or no-fat versions of:


The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends consuming foods rich in protein, such as:

  • lean meats, including 95% lean ground beef or skinless chicken or turkey
  • fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, or trout
  • eggs
  • nuts and seeds
  • soy products or tofu
  • legumes, such as:
    • black-eyed peas
    • chickpeas
    • kidney beans
    • lentils
    • lima beans

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats

Consuming foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may benefit heart health. Examples include:

  • oils, such as:
    • olive oil
    • canola oil
    • corn oil
    • sesame oil
    • sunflower oil
  • nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, and pine nuts
  • seeds, such as pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, and sesame seeds
  • seed and nut butters
  • tofu
  • avocados
  • certain fish, such as trout and salmon

Learn more about foods for a healthy heart.

The AHA recommends limiting or avoiding the following foods:

  • ultra-processed foods
  • foods and drinks with added sugars, such as corn syrup and concentrated fruit juices
  • processed meats
  • foods high in salt
  • alcoholic beverages
  • tropic oils, such as coconut, palm, and palm kernel oil
  • animal fats such as butter and lard
  • partially hydrogenated fats

A person’s doctor or dietitian can provide more information about foods to reduce or eliminate from their diet after a heart attack.

The AHA’s 2021 Dietary Guidance to Improve Cardiovascular Health does not recommend routine supplement use to improve heart health. Instead, it recommends focusing on consuming a heart-healthy diet.

Additionally, high doses of vitamins and minerals may not improve heart health. For example, 2022 research found that adults who take a moderate to high daily dose of vitamin D do not have a reduced risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart-related death.

However, a 2022 review of studies found that various supplements reduced cardiovascular risks. More research is necessary, but examples of supplements that may be beneficial include:

  • omega-3 fatty acid
  • omega-6 fatty acid
  • folic acid
  • coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10
  • L-arginine
  • L-citrulline
  • vitamin D
  • magnesium
  • zinc
  • melatonin
  • catechin
  • alpha-lipoic acid

It is best that a person contacts their doctor before taking supplements. The doctor can recommend whether the supplements are beneficial after a heart attack and advise on whether the supplements will interact with any medication the individual may be taking.

Aside from eating a heart-healthy diet, making some lifestyle changes can reduce modifiable risk factors for heart attacks and other heart-related conditions.

Steps a person can take include:

  • getting enough physical activity or exercise
  • maintaining a moderate weight
  • managing conditions such as diabetes, cholesterol, and high blood pressure
  • reducing stress
  • quitting smoking where applicable

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that it is also important to monitor blood pressure and blood sugar levels. A person’s doctor can advise on how frequently an individual should have their blood pressure and blood sugar levels checked by a medical professional.

Learn about heart attack recovery.

Diet can play an important role in reducing a person’s risk of a heart attack. If a person has already had a heart attack, consuming a heart-healthy diet can help prevent recurrence.

The type of food and the amount someone eats can also affect controllable risk factors associated with heart problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels.

Learn more about heart attack prevention.

Here are some frequently asked questions about diets and heart health.

What is a cardiac diet menu plan?

A cardiac diet is an eating plan that aims to reduce a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease and other heart conditions. It emphasizes heart-healthy foods that may help improve heart health and reduce the risk of heart attacks and other heart conditions.

Can I eat eggs after a heart attack?

People who have had a heart attack need to pay attention to the amount of cholesterol in their diet. If a person does not consume much cholesterol from other sources, it may be OK to consume eggs after a heart attack.

Studies have shown conflicting results about eggs and the risk of heart attacks, so it is best for a person to discuss their diet with a doctor.

A heart-healthy diet that comprises mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein-rich foods may be beneficial after a heart attack.

A person may choose to follow specific diets such as the Mediterranean diet or the DASH diet. It may also be beneficial to avoid certain foods, such as ultra-processed foods, foods high in salt, and foods and drinks with added sugar.

A dietitian can help a person create an eating plan to ensure they get enough nutrients while helping to look after their heart health.