Did you know that atrial fibrillation affects more than a million of Spanish people over 40 years old? If you are part of this group of people diagnosed with this type of arrhythmia, you may have a flood of doubts about your disease, such as what should you eat if you have an arrhythmia. Therefore, in this post we want to approach one of the topics that raises the most questions: what type of diet should you follow when you suffer from an arrhythmia and, more specifically, atrial fibrillation?
A priori, there is no specific diet for people with atrial fibrillation. Basically, for this type of arrhythmia it is advisable to follow a heart-healthy diet. Here there are some tips that will help you to improve your eating habits:
Food to eat if I have an arrhythmia
It is advisable to minimize the intake of foods that contain high levels of saturated and/or trans fat. This type of fat contributes to the increase in cholesterol levels that, in high levels, help the onset of heart disease and clog the arteries causing an alteration in blood pressure, so you should avoid it if you have a cardiac arrhythmia.
For this reason, reducing the level of cholesterol in our body is essential. To do this, it is necessary to make some changes in our nutritional habits and replace foods that we usually consume on a regular basis (full fat dairy products, butter or fatty meats) by healthier ones (low-fat dairy products, virgin olive oil or lean meats). In addition, it is advisable to avoid fast food, industrial pastries and sausages.
All this, combined with moderate daily exercise, will put your cholesterol in check and, above all, will prevent your disease from getting worse.
Another basic ingredient that we tend to overuse is salt. Make sure that the food you eat is low in sodium, since the abuse of this substance in our diet can result in an increase of blood pressure and heart rate, leading to an episode of atrial fibrillation. Seasoning your dishes with spices can be a solution to reduce the use of salt.
Finally, you should moderate the intake of beverages such as coffee, tea, alcohol, energy drinks and caffeinated soft drinks. There are no direct indications that caffeine affects atrial fibrillation, but they are exciting drinks that can cause alterations in our heart rate and blood pressure, favoring the appearance of an episode of fibrillation.
Food with vitamin K
If you are following an anticoagulant treatment, you must control the amount of food rich in vitamin K you consume. An excess of this type of vitamin can affect the effectiveness of anticoagulant drugs, reducing it. We can find vitamin K especially in dark yellow vegetables or green leafy vegetables.
Food that we should include in our diet
There are different foods that contribute to improve our health that is why we recommend including them in our diet.
- Blue fish. This type of fish contains a large amount of Omega 3 fatty acids. Some examples are anchovies, sardines, swordfish and salmon. It is advisable to consume it at least 3 times a week.
- Nuts, walnuts and almonds. These foods are rich in magnesium and it is better to take them raw.
- Cereals and derivatives such as bread, pasta or rice (whole wheat if possible). These foods do not contain large amounts of vitamin K and it is preferable to eat them 2 or 3 times a week.
- Legumes. Increasing the consumption of legumes is beneficial for our health, since the lack of them in our body can carry a risk of suffering arrhythmias.
- Fruit. It is very beneficial to eat between 3 and 5 pieces of fruit a day.
Change your habits in the kitchen
Not only is it important eating healthy food, but we must also take care of the way we cook them so that they do not lose their essential properties. The most effective methods to keep the dishes we prepare healthy are cooking them in the oven, grilled or steamed.
When you make the purchase make sure you look closely at the labels of the products you buy. It is important food products are low in saturated fat and sodium. In addition, you should avoid by all means buying industrial pastries full of sugars and refined oils from palm fat.
In short, adopting good eating habits and a healthy lifestyle through sports practice will favour an increase in your quality of life. This, along with regular medical follow-up, will decrease your chances of suffering from atrial fibrillation.
Sources: National Society of Cardiology