Diet and Heart Failure

Eating a healthy diet may reduce your symptoms of heart failure. A registered dietitian can provide in-depth, personalized nutrition info and help you start an action plan.

Here are some basic tips to get you started:

Control the salt in your diet. Lowering the amount of sodium you eat to no more than 1,500 milligrams per day is one of the most important ways to manage heart failure. Talk to your doctor about your specific sodium restrictions.

Learn to read food labels. Use the information on food packages to help you to make the best low-sodium selections.

Eat a variety of foods. This will help make sure you get all the nutrients you need.

Include high-fiber foods in your diet. Fiber helps move food along your digestive tract, controls blood sugar levels, and may reduce the level of cholesterol in your blood. Vegetables, beans, whole-grain foods, bran, and fresh fruit are high in fiber. You should have 25 to 35 grams of fiber each day.

Keep track of how much you’re drinking. Have less (including soup) if you have shortness of breath or notice swelling. Talk to your doctor about how much fluid you should be drinking each day.

Maintain a healthy weight. Lose weight if you’re overweight. Limit the number of calories you have each day. Exercise regularly to get to or keep your ideal weight.

Cut back on alcohol. It can affect your heart rate and worsen your heart failure. Your doctor may tell you to avoid or limit alcoholic beverages. Alcohol may also interact with the medications you are taking. Questions? Ask your doctor for guidelines.

Food Labels

Nutrition labels and an ingredient list are required on most foods so you can make the best choice for a healthy lifestyle.

If you have trouble reading the food label, meet with a registered dietitian. They can review the label with you and clear up any confusion.


  1. Heart Failure Society of America: “How to Follow a Low Sodium Diet."
  2. American Heart Association: “Lifestyle Changes for Heart Failure."

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