Congestive heart failure (CHF) occurs when the heart does not provide enough oxygen and not pump efficiently into your body. Many diseases lead to CHF, such as high blood pressure and heart and kidney disease.
Treatment for CHF helps prevent complications and relieve symptoms.
Your heart doesn’t have to work as hard when you change your diet. This can make your CHF worse. The following diet will help reduce some of your symptoms.

Cut down on salt in your diet

It is important to enjoy what you eat. Even if you crave salt, you can learn to love foods that are low in salt. Your taste buds will soon change and you won’t run out of salt. Removing the salt can bring out flavors that may have been hidden by the salt.
Reduce the content of salt in your diet by trying the following suggestions:

  • Choose lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. They only contain small amounts of salt.
  • Choose foods low in salt, such as dry and fresh legumes, eggs, fish, fresh meats, milk, poultry and yogurt. Oatmeal, pasta and plain rice are good low sodium choices. However, the sodium content may increase if during their preparation, salt or other high sodium ingredients are added.
  • Season with herbs, spices, herb vinegar and fruit juices. Avoid mixtures of herbs or spices that contain salt or sodium. Use lemon juice or fresh ground pepper to accentuate the natural flavors. For meat marinades, try orange or pineapple juice as a base.
  • Read food labels before purchasing packaged foods. For sodium content per serving, check the Nutrition Facts on the label. In the package, find out the number of servings. How does the each serving sodium compare to the total sodium you can eat each day? Try to choose packaged foods that are less than 350 milligrams of sodium for each serving. Checking the list of ingredients is also useful. If salt or sodium is in the top five ingredients, it is too high in sodium.

When checking labels:

Use the nutritional information on packaged foods. Be sure to note the number of servings per container. Here are some tips for using this information.

  • Nutrient List The list covers the nutrients that are most important to your health.
  • % Daily Value This number indicates how foods meet the recommended nutrient intake levels for a 2000 calorie reference diet. Try not to eat more than 100 percent of total fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
  • Daily Values Footnote Some food labels list the Daily Values for a daily diet of 2,000 and 2,500 calories.
  • Calories per gram Footnote Some labels show the approximate number of calories in a gram of fat, carbohydrate and protein.
  • Sodium content Always check the sodium content. Look for foods that are less than 350 milligrams in sodium for each serving.

Also Read: What to Avoid in a Congestive Heart Failure Diet

When cooking or preparing food:

  • Shake off the habit. Take off the salt shaker from the kitchen counter and table. A 1/8 teaspoon “salt shake” adds over 250 milligrams of sodium to your dish.
  • Be creative. Instead of adding salt, boost the flavor with herbs and spices, garlic, onions and citrus juices. See salt-free herb mix recipes below.
  • Be a low salt cook. In most recipes, you can reduce the salt by 50% or even eliminate it altogether. You can bake, broil, broil, roast, poach, steam or microwave food without salt. Avoid the urge to add salt to the cooking water for pasta, rice, grains and vegetables. It’s an easy way to reduce sodium.
  • Be careful with the condiments. High sodium condiments include various flavored salts, lemon pepper, garlic salt, onion salt, meat tenderizers, flavor enhancers, bouillon cubes, ketchup, mustard, steak sauce and soy sauce.
  • Stay away from hidden salt. Canned and processed foods, like instant cereals, olives, packaged noodles and potato mixes, pickles, sauces, soups, and vegetables are high in salt. Instead choose the frozen item; or better yet, choose fresh foods when you can. Cheeses, cold cuts (like bacon, bologna, hot dogs, and sausages), fast foods, and frozen foods can also be high in sodium.

At the restaurant:

A low sodium diet shouldn’t spoil the enjoyment of a restaurant meal. However, when ordering you need to be careful. Here are some tips for meals outside the home:

  • Move the salt shaker to another table. Ask for a lemon wedge or bring your own blend of herbs to enhance the flavor of the food.
  • Recognize menu terms that may indicate high sodium content: marinated, in juice, soy sauce or in broth.
  • Choose raw vegetables or fresh fruit over salty snacks.
  • Take it easy with condiments such as mustard, catsup, pickles, and tartar sauce. Choose lettuce, onions and tomatoes. Remember, bacon and cheese are high in sodium.
  • Have the cook prepare the food without adding salt or MSG. Or ask for sauces and dressings on the side as they are often high in sodium. For a salad, use a lemon zest, a little vinegar or a light drizzle of vinaigrette.

Herbal mixtures without salt

Instead of seasoning your food with salt, enhance the flavor of food with these salt-free herbal and spice combinations. To make 1/2 cup, mix the ingredients in a jar. Cover tightly and shake. Store in a cool, dry place. Then rub or sprinkle them on the food to give it flavor.

Chinese 5 spices

For chicken, fish or pork:

  • 1/4 cup ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons each: ground cinnamon, ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp each: ground allspice, anise seeds

Mixed herb blend

For pasta salads, salads, steamed vegetables, vegetable soup or fish:

  • 1/4 cup dried parsley flakes
  • 2 tablespoons of dried tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon each: dried oregano, dill, celery flakes

Italian blend

For tomato-based soups, pasta dishes, chicken, pizza, focaccia and herb bread:

  • 2 tablespoons each: dried basil, dried marjoram, thyme, crushed dried rosemary, crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon each: garlic powder, dried oregano

Easy dip blend

To mix with cottage cheese, low-fat sour cream or yogurt:

  • 1/2 cup of dried dill
  • 1 tablespoon each: dried chives, garlic powder, dried lemon zest and dried chervil


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