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Post Open Heart Bypass Surgery Diet : What To Eat and What To Avoid After Open Heart Bypass Surgery

Coronary artery bypass surgery, also known as heart bypass surgery, is a surgical procedure done for repairing the damaged arteries present in the heart and for treating the resulting symptoms. Heart bypass surgery is not a cure for heart disease; however, it is done to reduce the symptoms of heart disease, such as shortness of breath and chest pain. Heart bypass surgery also helps in improving the blood circulation to the heart and enhances the cardiac function. It is also extremely important to make lifestyle changes along with this surgery to gain maximum benefits and to keep your heart healthy. Regular exercise and following a heart healthy diet which also helps with weight loss and reducing cholesterol and blood pressure levels are some of the things which need to be done to see positive changes in your life when it comes to heart health.

Making these lifestyle changes will maximize the positive impacts of your heart bypass surgery and keep your heart healthy.

Post Open Heart Bypass Surgery Diet

Some of the Heart-Healthy Diets, which patients can follow after going through heart bypass surgery, are DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and Mediterranean diets. These diets consist of eating lot of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and healthy fats, such as olive oil. Lean meats, such as poultry and fish can be eaten in moderation. Food items, such as cured and processed meats, dairy products, refined carbohydrates and alcohol are no-no.

It is important to stay away from high-cholesterol and high-fat diets after heart bypass surgery. However, healthy fats can be consumed and are known to improve cardiovascular function.(1) A study done in 2018 showed that the Mediterranean diet, which was supplemented with nuts or extra-virgin olive oil was more effective than reduced diet for patients with heart problems.(2)

Foods To Eat After Open Heart Bypass Surgery

Whole Grains (3)

Whole grains have fiber which will benefit the digestive system along with the heart by keeping the weight in check.(4) Replace your refined carbohydrates, such as white bread with whole grains, such as quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, non-processed oats, whole-wheat pasta and whole-grain bread.

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

Fresh vegetables and fruits are excellent for health and more so for the health of heart.(5) They are rich in antioxidants and various nutrients, which helps in increasing the immunity and help in warding off infections.(5, 6) It is important to eat vegetables and fruits daily after open heart bypass surgery to cut down on the risk of heart attack and stroke and also to keep the blood pressure under control.

Always make sure to eat different colored vegetables and fruits to derive as much nutrition as possible. Some of the fruits and vegetables which are high in antioxidants and thus beneficial for your heart are: apples, sweet potatoes, papayas, kiwis, bell peppers, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, carrots, broccoli and berries.

Fatty Fish & Lean Protein

Eating healthy fats is good for heart. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel and tuna are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids,(7) which are known to be beneficial for the health of your heart.(8, 11)

When it comes to proteins, always consume lean protein, such as turkey breasts, chicken, nuts, beans, which will keep your heart healthy and does not cause strain on it. Lean protein also helps in fighting infections and helps in the recovery process.

Foods to Avoid After Open Heart Bypass Surgery

Avoid Sodium Intake

Excessive sodium or salt in the diet increases the risk of hypertension, which in turn puts strain on the heart.(9) Other than this, increased sodium intake also causes water retention, which increases the pressure on the arteries and veins.(10) Follow a diet which is low in salt and consume foods which say “no added salt.” Sometimes, doctor can prescribe a water pill which will help in eliminating the fluid and sodium from your body.

Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol is notorious for affecting the liver; however, excessive consumption of alcohol is harmful for your heart too.(12) Drinking excessive alcohol causes increase in the level of triglycerides and LDL (bad cholesterol) and decreases the levels of good cholesterol, which is HDL.(12) Increased LDL levels, along with hypertension and cardiomyopathy, increases the risk of having cardiovascular issues after going through open cardiac bypass surgery. Other than this, alcohol contains empty calories, so if you drink lot of it, then your sugar intake will increase which is again harmful for your heart health.

All Types of Processed and Packaged Foods to Avoid

After going through open heart bypass surgery, it is important to absolutely avoid processed and packaged foods, as these are full of preservatives and harmful for your heart health. Some of the foods one should avoid after having open heart bypass surgery for better heart health are:(13)

  • Processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon, hams and sausages.
  • Foods which have monosodium glutamate (MSG).
  • Salted nuts, wafers and potato chips.
  • Meals that are frozen and ready to eat.
  • Processed cut fruits and vegetables
  • Canned soups, juices, broths, beans or pickled vegetables.

Avoid Sugar

Sugar is not only harmful for heart health but also for overall health. It is important to limit sugar consumption, as it also causes weight gain, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.(14) Avoid drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, such as sodas and colas and other sugary processed items and opt for healthy homemade unsweetened fruit and vegetable smoothies and drink plenty of water.


It is important to remember that having open heart bypass surgery is not an end nor is it a cure for heart conditions. This surgery is done to help in easing the symptoms of heart problems and improve your heart functioning. After this surgery, it is important to change your lifestyle by getting regular exercise; heart healthy diet, getting good sleep for 7 to 8 hours and preventing stress, as much as possible to keep your heart in good shape after the surgery.


Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 11, 2022

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