Nutrients Impacting Heart Failure Patients

Health Professional
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Approximately 50 percent of patients with heart failure are malnourished. Consider these nutrients and dietary choices, which can have a direct impact on the progression and outcome of heart failure.


The American Heart Association recommends restricting sodium to one to two grams per day for stage A and B heart failure.

Sodium sources

Limit intake of cured meats, salted snacks, condiments, canned foods, processed cheese, and pickled products.

Be aware of salt in non-diet sources, such as barbiturates, laxatives, and antacids. (Chewable antacids can contain 1,200-7,000 mg of sodium.)


Diuretics deplete electrolytes such as potassium. Potassium plays an essential role in maintaining normal heart rhythm and function.

The Institute of Medicine recommends 4,700 mg of potassium daily for adults.

Potassium sources

Food sources rich in potassium include bananas, tomato juice, potatoes, avocado, and raisins.

Be aware: a high-potassium diet is not recommended for individuals with renal failure or those using potassium-sparing diuretics.


Low magnesium intake is associated with a variety of conditions, including coronary vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels), atherogenesis (accumulation of plaque in artery walls), and cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heart beat).

Magnesium sources

Magnesium rich foods include peas, beans, nuts, seeds, squash, broccoli, spinach, and seafood.

A 2003 study found patients with low magnesium during the first eight days after coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) to be twice as likely to have a heart attack or die within the first year post-surgery.

Thiamin (B1)

Thiamin deficiency tends to be higher in patients using diuretics due to the water-soluble B-vitamin being excreted in the urine.

Thiamin sources

Food sources of thiamin include enriched grain products, wheat germ, beef liver, dried milk, egg, legumes and peas.

Be aware of foods that negatively impact thiamin absorption, such as coffee, tea, blueberries, and raw fish.

Are you at risk for malnutrition?

Consuming a poor quality diet will negatively impact heart failure disease progression and underlying conditions. Assess your risk for malnutrition with your doctor and take steps to address areas of concern.