People with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) will benefit from a heart-healthy diet. This includes a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in added sugar, sodium, and trans and saturated fats.

HCM causes the walls in the chambers of the heart to thicken, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood around the body.

People with HCM may benefit from making lifestyle adjustments that promote heart health and following a diet that is good for the heart.

Learn more about foods that are heart-healthy, foods to avoid, and lifestyle changes to help manage HCM.

People with HCM will benefit from a heart-healthy diet.

This involves prioritizing foods such as fruit and vegetables and limiting foods high in saturated fats and sodium.

A heart-healthy diet includes:

  • a variety of fruits
  • a variety of vegetables
  • grains
  • foods low in saturated fat
  • foods low in trans fat
  • beverages that are low in added sugar

A 2021 study suggests a Mediterranean diet may benefit a person with HCM.

Fruits and vegetables

The American Heart Association (AHA) advises eating four and a half cups of fruit and four and a half cups of vegetables daily. To achieve this, filling at least half the plate with fruit and vegetables is a good place to start. Produce can be fresh, canned, or frozen.

If buying produce that is not fresh, it is important for people to check the label and choose products with the lowest amount of added sugar or sodium.

Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients essential for heart health.

Some of these nutrients include:

  • vitamin A
  • vitamin C
  • folate
  • potassium
  • fiber

It is advisable for people to eat fruits and vegetables in as many different colors as possible.


Protein is an essential part of any diet, and the AHA recommends that protein should come mostly from plant-based sources.

Fish and seafood are also heart-healthy sources of protein.

For people who eat meat or poultry, lean and unprocessed poultry or meat is a suitable choice.

Whole grains

Heart-healthy diet recommendations advise eating whole grains.

Whole grains are an important source of dietary fiber, which lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke as well as improves blood cholesterol levels.

Whole grains contain an entire grain, including bran, germ, and endosperm. This is preferable to refined grains, which do not contain germ or bran. Half of the grains people eat should come from whole grains.

Whole grain foods include:

  • oats
  • corn
  • farro
  • barley
  • whole wheat
  • oatmeal
  • brown rice
  • wild rice
  • quinoa
  • popcorn
  • graham flour

To maintain a heart-healthy diet, people should avoid some foods or only eat them in small amounts.

Foods high in sodium, sugar, and fat can be unhealthy for the heart.

AHA guidelines recommend:

  • no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day for women and 9 teaspoons for men
  • no more than 1,500 milligrams (mg) a day of sodium for those with heart issues

The average person in America consumes 3,600 mg of sodium and 22 teaspoons of sugar per day.

Eating foods high in saturated and trans fat is not good for the heart.

Saturated fats are present in several foods:

  • lamb
  • beef
  • pork
  • poultry with the skin on
  • butter
  • cream

Trans fats are also known as partially hydrogenated oils.

They are present in foods including:

  • fried food
  • pizza dough
  • pastry
  • cookies
  • crackers

Individuals should limit their saturated fat consumption to less than 7% and trans fat to less than 1% of their daily calorie intake.

People should also avoid highly processed foods on a heart-healthy diet. These foods typically contain high amounts of sugar, sodium, and refined flour but low amounts of nutrients.

These include foods such as:

  • sugar cereal
  • cake
  • chips
  • cookies

Some people with HCM may benefit from some lifestyle changes to benefit their heart and overall health.

These include taking steps such as exercising more, not smoking, and avoiding alcohol.


People with HCM will benefit from exercise but may need to make adjustments. They may need to avoid exercises that have sudden bursts of exertion, such as sprinting.

They may also need to avoid some intensive sports.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends adults should do either of the following:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week
  • 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week

A combination of both moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity is also possible.

People who participate in moderate-intensity physical activity beyond 300 minutes a week will have additional health benefits.

Even being lightly active and spending less time sitting has health benefits.

Those with HCM should consult a healthcare professional before increasing their amount of physical activity, especially if they:

  • take medication
  • have symptoms such as chest pain
  • experience shortness of breath
  • experience dizziness

Quit smoking

If people smoke, quitting is beneficial for heart health and for those with HCM. Smoking increases the risk of heart disease by two to four times. People who continue to smoke throughout their life shorten their lifespan by 13–14 years. Women who smoke have a 25% higher risk of developing heart disease than men who smoke.

Nicotine can raise blood pressure and heart rate. In addition, carbon monoxide deprives the heart, brain, and arteries of oxygen.

Cigarettes also damage the blood cells and cause the blood to become sticky, which can result in blood clots.

Avoid alcohol

The AHA recommends people with HCM should avoid drinking alcohol. Those who do drink should do so in moderation.

Anyone who does not drink should not start. For people that do drink alcohol, they should keep their consumption to:

  • an average of 1–2 drinks per day for men
  • one drink per day for women

One drink is usually:

  • 5 ounces (oz) of wine
  • 1.5 oz of spirits such as vodka or gin
  • 12 oz of beer

HCM is a heart disease that can affect how effectively the heart can pump blood.

Following a heart-healthy diet can be helpful for people with HCM.

This includes eating various vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and limiting foods high in sodium, sugar, and saturated and trans fats.

Making lifestyle changes such as exercising more, quitting smoking, and avoiding alcohol may also be beneficial. However, a person with HCM should speak with a doctor before increasing their physical activity.