People with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) may 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.

This article lists heart-healthy foods, foods to avoid, and lifestyle changes to help manage HCM.

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The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a heart-healthy diet for people with HCM. This involves prioritizing foods such as fruit and vegetables and limiting foods high in saturated fats and sodium.

A heart-healthy diet includes:

A 2021 study suggests a Mediterranean diet, combined with low-to-moderate exercise, may benefit a person with symptomatic HCM and obesity.

Fruits and vegetables

The 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 during meals is a good place to start. Produce can be fresh, canned, or frozen.

If buying produce that is not fresh, people can check the label and choose products with the lowest amount of added sugar or salt.

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

The AHA also advises people to eat fruits and vegetables in as many colors as possible.


Protein is an essential part of any diet, and the AHA recommends it 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 improves blood cholesterol levels and lowers the risk of conditions such as heart disease and stroke.

Whole grains contain an entire grain, including bran, germ, and endosperm. In contrast, refined grains are ground down and do not contain germ or bran. Producers may enrich refined grains with nutrients, but do not always include fiber.

Half of the grains people eat should come from whole grains.

Whole grain foods include:

To maintain a heart-healthy diet, people should avoid or limit certain foods. For example, eating high amounts of sodium, sugar, and fat can be unhealthy for the heart.

Sugar and salt

AHA guidelines recommend:

  • no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day for women and 9 teaspoons for men
  • no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day of sodium for most adults, though no more than 1,500 mg is ideal and may be better for people with certain health conditions

The average American adult consumes 3,500 mg of sodium and 17 teaspoons of sugar per day.

Saturated and trans fats

Eating foods high in saturated and trans fat can contribute to health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, or high cholesterol. Saturated fats are present in the following foods:

  • lamb
  • beef and beef far
  • 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

The AHA recommends replacing saturated and trans fats with alternatives such as nontropical vegetable oils.

Highly-processed foods

People should also avoid highly processed foods when eating 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 the following lifestyle changes.


People with HCM will benefit from exercise but may need to make adjustments. They may need to avoid intensive sports or exercises with sudden exertion, such as sprinting.

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. However, 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:

Quit smoking

If people smoke, quitting is beneficial for heart health and for those with HCM. The AHA states smoking increases the risk of heart disease by two to four times.

People who continue to smoke throughout their life shorten their lifespan by 11–12 years. Females who smoke have a 25% higher risk of developing heart disease than males 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. People who drink alcohol should limit their consumption to an average of:

  • 1–2 drinks per day for men
  • 1 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


Getting enough good quality sleep may benefit people with HCM. Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night.

Sleep disordered breathing, including conditions such as sleep apnea, is a potential comorbidity of HCM, affecting 55–70% of people with HCM. These conditions may increase the severity of HCM.

Seeking treatment for this may help a person with HCM sleep better.

Stress management

According to a 2022 clinical trial, people in China with HCM commonly experience anxiety and stress. The authors also associated anxiety with a higher risk of heart failure events and sudden cardiac death.

The following techniques may help people with HCM to manage their stress:

HCM is a heart condition that can affect how well the heart pumps blood.

Following a heart-healthy diet can be helpful for people with HCM. This includes eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and limiting foods high in sodium, sugar, and saturated and trans fats.

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