7 Day Rapid Weight Loss Diet for Heart Surgery Patients

6 ways a heart dietitian will help you

When you have high blood pressure,
diabetes or excess weight, your doctor may refer you to a heart dietitian.

“Our goal is to reduce your cardiac
risk,” explains Ms. Zumpano. “We try to get you started and educate you so
that you’re empowered to make ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ food choices.”

When you see a heart dietitian, you
will learn how to:

nutrient-dense foods from empty-calorie foods.

  • The Mediterranean diet is loaded with nutrient-dense foods, packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and/or healthy fat: fresh produce; nuts, seeds and olive oil; beans and whole grains; and lean proteins.
  • The typical American diet contains too many high-calorie foods devoid of nutrients: soda, chips, crackers, cookies and candy bars. They add to your weight, and raise your blood sugar and bad LDL cholesterol levels.

2. Choose healthy
versus unhealthy fats.

  • Healthy (unsaturated) fats don’t turn solid at room temperature, and include plant oils, nuts, olives, avocado and fatty fish. 
  • Saturated fats turn solid at room temperature. “While there’s room for some saturated fat in our diets, we want to limit meat and keep solid animal fat, like chicken skin, marbled cuts and bacon, to a minimum,” she says.
  • Start replacing red meat with poultry or fish, and full-fat dairy with plant-based options like olive oil and nuts. Try making one meatless meal per week using beans or legumes. 
  • Manmade fats (trans fat/partially hydrogenated oils), also solid at room temperature, have been banned by the FDA. “They increase bad cholesterol and usually cause weight gain and inflammation,” she notes.

3. Tell healthy carbs
from unhealthy carbs.

  • High-fiber carbs (like whole grains and legumes) are always better than simple carbs, like sweets, snack foods, chips, and white bread, pasta or rice.
  • Every meal should include lots of veggies, and some fruit or whole grain. “Watch your grain portions,” cautions Ms. Zumpano. “I recommend three 15-gram servings of carbs per day — for example, ½ cup oatmeal, 1 slice of bread and ½ cup of brown rice.”
  • If you have diabetes and need to lose weight, limit your carbs to 2 to 3 grams per meal (for women) and 3 to 4 grams of carbs (for men). This will also keep your blood sugars stable.

4. Eat at home more often.

  • Restaurant meals are often high in salt and saturated fat. If you’re eating out five days a week, “we’ll troubleshoot why you’re doing this so often and try to find some quick, easy options that you can make at home instead,” says Ms. Zumpano.
  • Can’t give up eating at restaurants? Work on doing so four, or three, days a week instead. Avoid dishes that are fried, creamed, buttered or tempura, and opt for baked, boiled or broiled foods instead.

5. Get a handle on
your snacking.

  • Snacks should have no more than 15 or 20 grams of carbohydrate. (One carb serving is 15 carbs, two is 30, etc.). 
  • Include a protein and complex carb in each snack.
  • Choose healthy snacks that suit your taste buds (e.g., replace sweets with fruit and nuts, and salty chips with whole grain crackers and cheese). 

6. Reduce the salt in
your diet.

  • Always read food labels for sodium content, and if you have hypertension or prehypertension, limit yourself to 1,500 milligrams (about 2/3 teaspoon) of salt per day.
  • When eating out, avoid the American Heart Association’s “salty six” (foods that increase blood pressure): pizza, poultry, deli meats, canned soups, breads and sandwiches.

“We can show you how to make changes in
the way you eat so that you can follow a heart-healthy diet and not even
have to think about it,” says Ms. Zumpano. 

Best: Flexitarian Diet

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Ready to eliminate all animal products including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy? While many people follow a vegan diet to protect the planet or for animal rights, it’s also a great diet for your health.

Inflammation plays a key role in the development and progression of heart disease, and a healthy vegan diet includes many anti-inflammatory foods: polyphenol-rich fruits and vegetables, unsaturated fats from nuts and seeds, and fiber-rich whole grains.

Research shows that following a vegan diet can dramatically reduce inflammation. Going vegan can also lower your cholesterol and help you shed pounds—and that’s great for your heart.

A typical day on a vegan diet: Breakfast: Avocado toast with scrambled tofu and an almond milk berry smoothie. Lunch: Quinoa lentil salad with tahini dressing. Snack: Trail mix. Dinner: Black bean walnut burgers on a whole-grain bun with a green salad.

Bottom line: If you can commit to this plan, your heart will thank you. Follow these tips to have a heart-healthy day.

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The term “flexitarian” combines flexible and vegetarian. A flexitarian diet is mostly vegetarian, with meat included as something to enjoy once in a while. The premise of flexitarianism is that you can get the health benefits of a meat-free diet by eating vegetarian most of the time, while still allowing yourself a burger from time to time so you can avoid feeling deprived.

The key to the flexitarian diet is to focus on plant-based proteins like beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds, rather than animal proteins, while also incorporating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy.

There’s no rule saying how often to eat meat while on the flexitarian diet. But research supports the idea of replacing even a little of the meat in your diet with plant-based proteins will benefit your heart while lowering your risk of death from other diseases like cancer.

A typical day on the flexitarian diet: Breakfast: Oatmeal with fruit and nuts. Lunch: A whole-grain wrap filled with vegetables and chickpeas for lunch. Snack: Yogurt with berries and granola. Dinner: Vegetable-noodle soup with either white beans or chicken.

Bottom line: This is a good plan for people who like the idea of vegetarianism but can’t completely quit meat.

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The Nordic Diet was created by a group of chefs, doctors, scientists, and nutritionists in order to address increasing obesity rates in Nordic countries. It’s based on three main guidelines: Try to eat more plants and less meat, more foods from the sea, and eat more foods from the wild countryside—especially berries.

Studies on the Nordic Diet show that it helps reduce total and LDL cholesterol levels, while also aiding in weight loss. The Nordic Diet is based on nutritious foods that are common in Nordic countries, so you’ll see recommendations for lots of root vegetables, cabbages, fish like mackerel and trout, grains like oats and barley, and wild mushrooms and berries.

A typical day on the Nordic diet: Breakfast: Oatmeal with wild berries and nuts. Lunch: Barley salad with beans, cabbage and vinaigrette. Snack: A pear with walnuts. Dinner: Salmon with mushrooms and roasted root vegetables.

Bottom line: This is basically the Mediterranean diet except you replace olive oil with rapeseed (canola). You can’t go wrong. These are the 50 best foods for your heart.


The cabbage soup diet is meant for short-term use because it is extremely low in calories, lacks protein and does not provide the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy. The diet yields a rapid weight loss that is usually not sustainable.

Most of the weight loss is water weight. The cabbage soup diet is high in sodium. If you are a heart patient, this can be a problem, as it can affect your blood pressure. This is one reason it’s highly unlikely that any cardiac surgeon ever prescribed this diet for heart patients facing surgery.

Diet Details

The cabbage soup diet is a strict regimen that you must follow for seven days. Although there are many versions of the diet, they are similar. On all days, you may have all the cabbage soup that you want, as well as specific foods.

On the first day, you may eat any fruit you want with the exception of bananas. On the second day, you may have raw and cooked vegetables, with the exception of corn, peas and beans. A baked potato for dinner is recommended.

On the third day, you may have unlimited fruits and vegetables. On day four, you must eat three to eight bananas and skim milk. On day five, you may consume six tomatoes and 1 lb. of red meat or fish.

Healthy Dietary Recommendations

By: mylargirl

This was delicious and easy to make. I have never roasted tofu before, and it worked so well. It was so brown and crispy on the outside. Yum!

I made a few modifications:

-I used savoy cabbage instead of napa cabbage. It probably would have been a bit better with the napa cabbage, but it was all I had.

-I thought the sauce seemed a bit bland, so I added extra garlic, chopped red chilli, a splash of fish sauce and a splash of red wine vinegar to pep it up.

-I used soba noodles instead of whole wheat pasta. It worked great!

Such a simple, tasty recipe. I would love to try different variations of it in the future.

If you are an overweight or obese heart patient, and your doctor suggests losing weight before surgery, try making healthy changes instead of following the cabbage soup diet. Decrease your calories, as well as sources of saturated fat and trans fat, such as butter, full-fat dairy products, meat, processed foods and commercially produced items.

Decrease cholesterol intake by avoiding eggs, red meat and shellfish. Cut back your sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg per day by limiting canned foods, processed foods and salt. Add whole grains, lean proteins like chicken and fish, low-fat dairy and plenty of fruits and vegetables to your diet.

Both trans and saturated fats contribute to weight gain, he says. And cutting out just two tiny creamers per day can add up to 1,800 fewer calories per month.

3. Watch out for sneaky salt.
Cardiologists are always asking heart patients to reduce their sodium intake, Dr. Beckerman says.

“If you consume lots of it, the volume of water in your bloodstream and tissues goes up,” putting stress on your heart and blood vessels.

Eating less can not only reduce your blood pressure, but it also may ease heart-disease symptoms, such as shortness of breath, he says. (Here are 10 ways to skip the salt when you cook.)

But it’s not enough to just stop sprinkling salt on your food.

“People get 77% of their sodium from processed foods – not from salt shakers,” Dr. Beckerman says.

Large amounts lurk in manufactured soups, pasta sauces, frozen dinners and even sweets like cookies.

Heart-healthy diet tip: Besides checking sodium amounts, look for “ingredients like monosodium glutamate (MSG), baking soda, baking powder and nitrites [a preservative].” They’re a tip-off to high-sodium foods.

Shoot for less than 2,400 mg a day, Dr. Beckerman advises.

“If you don’t want to do the math, just choose foods with less salt than you’re eating now,” he says.

“Many of my patients who adopt a lower-sodium diet lose weight without even having that in mind,” Dr. Beckerman adds.

4. Choose “real” meat.
Red meat long has been seen as a heart disease culprit, but the real danger may come from processed meats such as deli slices, packaged salami, bacon, sausage and hot dogs, Dr. Beckerman says.

Numerous studies, including one published in June 2014 in the American Heart Association (AHA) journal Circulation: Heart Failure, have shown that eating processed red meats can be harmful to your heart.

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