The heart is made up of strong muscles. This allows it to pump blood carrying oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a genetic heart condition that causes the muscles in the wall of the left ventricle to become thicker than normal. This means that there’s less space for blood to flow through. Thicker muscle is also less flexible. With HCM, the heart may be less able to pump blood efficiently through the body.

If you have a family member with HCM, it’s important to have regular screening for the condition. When diagnosed early, treatment can help manage symptoms and prevent long-term effects.

If untreated, HCM may lead to heart failure. This happens when the heart is no longer able to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. HCM can also cause an irregular heart rate. This may increase the risk of a blood clot when blood pools in the heart chambers.

Along with routine screening, following a heart-healthy lifestyle is recommended for people at risk of HCM. That includes things like:

  • staying active
  • maintaining a moderate weight
  • managing stress
  • getting enough sleep

That also includes eating a heart-healthy diet. There’s no specific diet to prevent or manage HCM, but eating habits may play a role.

Following a heart-healthy diet may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It can also reduce inflammation in the body. These are all factors in keeping your heart healthy.

illustration of heart-healthy foodsShare on Pinterest
Design by Maya Chastain
  1. Beans and lentils: Options like red and brown lentils, black beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas are high in fiber, which can help lower cholesterol and manage blood sugar levels.
  2. Nuts and seeds: Options like almonds, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin, sesame, chia, and flaxseeds are sources of fiber and healthy fats, both parts of a heart-healthy diet.
  3. Whole grains: Options like brown rice, quinoa, and oats are great sources of fiber that can help to manage cholesterol. People who eat more whole grains have a lower risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  4. Vegetables: Whether they’re fresh, frozen, cooked, or raw, vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, and spinach are good for your heart. They’re high in fiber to lower cholesterol. Many are rich in potassium, which can help to manage blood pressure.
  5. Fruits: Choose a variety of colors of fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruit, from apples to berries to oranges. Eating more fruits and vegetables may lower inflammation in the body. High intake is associated with lower rates of heart disease.
  6. Fish and seafood: Research suggests that eating fish two to three times per week can lower the risk of heart disease. Options like salmon, cod, and mackerel are sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation in the body.
  7. Olive oil: A Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil, has been shown to be helpful for obese adults with HCM.
  8. Lean meats and poultry: Lean, unprocessed meats and poultry, like boneless, skinless chicken breast or lean ground turkey, can be part of a heart-healthy eating pattern.

Heart-healthy eating is about overall patterns of food intake. While all foods can fit in an overall eating plan, some choices are better for your heart health than others.

To prevent or manage high blood pressure, a diet lower in salt (sodium) is recommended. Processed meats, canned soups, and other heat-and-serve meals are often high in salt.

Added sugar from foods like ice cream and beverages such as soda, along with fried foods and ultra-processed foods, should also be limited as much as possible for optimal heart health.

Studies are mixed about how alcohol may affect heart health. A few have suggested the benefits of alcohol. Others suggest it can be harmful. If you don’t currently drink alcohol, don’t start. If you do drink, aim for no more than one drink daily.

If you have a family history of HCM, regular screening to monitor for HCM is important. It’s also recommended to follow a heart-healthy diet. Heart-healthy eating can help manage cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. These are all other risk factors for heart disease.

A dietary pattern rich in beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, fish, and olive oil is associated with lower rates of heart disease. If you’re looking for more information on heart-healthy eating, consider working with a registered dietitian.