Even after a heart attack, many people still don't eat enough vegetables, fruit or fiber. According to a study published in the journal of the American Dietetic Association, about 80 percent of heart patients don't start a cardiac rehab program to help them get on track with nutrition and exercise.
This study surveyed 555 people one year after they had suffered a cardiac event, such as a heart attack, chest pain, or abnormal heart rhythm. Consumption of vegetables and fruits, trans fats and red meat was measured using the Alternate Healthy Eating Index, a validated tool for scoring diets based on heart health.
On average, just 12 percent of heart patients met the American guidelines for five or more servings of vegetables per day and fewer than 8 percent met the guidelines for fruit and fiber consumption.
Heart patients were found to have over 3 percent of their total calories from trans fat. Trans fat, a well-known contributor to heart disease, should total less than 0.5 percent of total calories by American standards.
Canadian men are advised to have 8-10 servings of vegetables and fruits per day while Canadian women should have 7-8 servings. Trans fat intake should be less than 0.2 percent of total calories according to Health Canada.
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, heart disease kills 32% of Canadian men and 34% of Canadian women. In Canada, heart patients are also need encouragement and guidance to make heart-healthy changes to their diet. According to the Canadian Cardiac Rehabilitation Foundation, less than 15% of heart attack sufferers seek a structured program that monitors their eating and physical activity.
The authors of this study stress the importance of the improving the diets of heart patients, suggesting simple messages - like eat more fiber - as a more effective solution than complicated guidelines.
For more information about a simple and structured program to improve your heart health with nutrition, check out how you can work one on one with Leslie Beck, RD.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.