Diet after heart bypass surgery

I had a bypass 4 weeks ago, recovering well but not yet back to 100% energy levels. I am told after surgery you should eat lots of protein but I started a strict vegan diet (Ornish reversal diet) 3 months ago and don't want to interrupt the good work this is doing to reduce my cholesterol (been under 3.0 since January). Would it be sensible to take a protein suppliment? My son is into working out and today persuaded me to buy a Soya Protein suppliment to take daily as extra protein. Also I may consider eating fish occasionally - would tinned salmon and tinned tuna be good sources of protein to take? I have tried eating more beans but not finding this very appetising.

15 Replies

  • Hello Bob.

    In the absence of any other reply, here's my take.

    Firstly, if you are contemplating salmon and tuna you would appear to be unsure about veganism as an intervention. Fish is one of the best sources of protein, soya comes way down on the list:

    If you are thinking of moderating your diet to include animal protein, you might care to investigate the growing body of evidence that heart disease has nothing to do with an overabundance or lowering of cholesterol. Cholesterol - probably the most vital substance in the body and made by every cell. Your body will carefully balance the cholesterol in your blood by making it or reducing it according to intake.

    This of course goes completely against current dietary guidelines, but you owe it to yourself to investigate every aspect re diet and heart disease.

    Have a look here:

    By the way, examine the credentials of the these people

    And an alternative to the Ornish paradigm:


    My best wishes on your journey.

  • hello I had a bypass in 1998 and I just carried on eating my normal diet ,and I made a great recovery,i don't go in for all these fancy diets,personaly I think they do you more harm than good,but it is your choice what you do,good luck :-)

  • Just wondered why you needed the bypass in the first place?

  • Mike, thanks got your input. My Left Main Stem and LAD arteries were getting blocked, hence the bypass. I have had a look at the links and now even more confused as to what to do. Had tinned salmon and a protein shake yesterday and went to measure my cholesterol today and it's up to 3.97 was 2.97 a couple of weeks ago when completely vegan diet. Looks like further investigations required.

  • Bob, do lots and lots of research. Lose your fear of total cholesterol - it means squat! The real markers for heart health are HDL to triglyceride ratio. The best way of increasing HDL and lower trigs is to LOWER CARBOHYDRATE. Read books/articles by the likes of Taubes, Ravnskov, Kendrick and see where the the disastrous advice that has made us as a worldwide society so metabolically deranged - Ancel Keys. The triumph of his obsession has got us to where we are today :

    Increasingly the evidence is pointing to sugar and carbohydrate - especially refined carbohydrate, carbonated drinks and, believe it or not, pure(?) fruit juice. However, when you realise that heart healthy grains are anything but, you have to replace that energy content with something else and that something is what your parents ate - butter, cheese, bacon, full fat milk, lard, dripping etc.

    The tide has well and truly turned, though it will be some time before the sacred cow of 'artery clogging saturated fat' rolls over. But only last week we had the good news splashed worldwide that perhaps the 'experts' had got it wrong after all:

    Here's a great video you'll enjoy:

  • Does your protein shake have sugar in it? This is more likely to have a negative impact than a little protein.

  • The 5th ingredient is dextrose.

  • Good to hear that the operation went well and that you are recovering.

    I would hesitate to use soya in any quantity, as far as I understand it is only used in small quantities as a fermented product in Asia. The effects of large quantities on the body may be a problem (research appears contradictory). If you have eliminated processed food from your diet, would a protein supplement be a good idea? Check the ingredients.

    In the interest of your health, any protein you eat needs to be the best quality you can manage. Fish in tins would perhaps be a stop gap but hopefully not the main source.

    Unfortunately meat is one of the best sources of B12 and other essential fatty acids. Again quality is important: meat from grass fed cattle would be the best source.

    Perhaps you could try organ meat, such as liver, occasionally, to give you a boost and prevent any possibility of anaemia? Can you add eggs to your diet?

    The Ornish diet is now many years old, and our understanding of how food affects our bodies has changed. We now know that eating sugar and processed/refined foods rather than fat contributes towards CVD.

    Perhaps you could modify your diet safely to ensure you are getting a good quality supply of protein from all sources.

    Hope your recovery continues to go well.

  • Can I ask if you were put on statins after your heart by-pass as this seems to be the usual procedure. It's just that your cholesterol levels are low if you are quoting total levels.

  • I have been on statins for ten years, I am 64 years old. My cholesterol has been maintained below 5 (typically 4.5 ish) with the statin for these last ten years, which was what the cardiologist recommended. Since discovering Ornish and Esselstyn studies last December, following research after being told I needed the bypass, I have targeted my cholesterol to be below 3.75 via existing statins but now adopting a very strict vegan diet.

  • Has reducing your cholesterol reduced your heart disease?

  • I am hoping it will reduce the further buildup of fatty deposits in my arteries, so yes in theory it should reduce my heart disease. Does this make sense?

  • Hi Bob,

    I had a triple bypass 5 years ago this month (I was 62 at the time) and my cholesterol since then has been below 5 and is currently 3.79. I have the additional complications of Diabetes |(Type 2 on insulin and metformin) which dictates a healthy balanced diet.

    Eighteen months ago I decided to trash all low fat milk, cheese, marg and low fat foods in general since they usually had too much sugar in them to disguise the taste. The evidence that this has worked - my current cholesterol level.

    My diet is porridge, loads of salad, fish (Usually fresh but frozen and tinned mackerel only), and chicken again usually fresh and frozen, Loads of Veg (usually frozen) and rice (usually steamed). And, of course Full Fat Milk, cheese and Butter.

    I still have Angina and two years ago had an attack of unstable angina and my heart was checked with an Angio-gram and all my replaced pipes were absolutely clear. I think there is a strong case of following the diet our parents had to adopt during and after World War II due to rationing

  • Very interesting. Your healthy balanced diet seems to be working well. Like you I have porridge, lots of salad and veg, brown rice but I am not convinced I need the full fat milk, cheese or butter. I am still contemplating the fish and maybe lean chicken which I may start eating again for the protein. Thanks for your reply.

  • I only cook and eat skinned chicken and further cut of the visceral fat under the skin.

    I'm not sure about brown rice (convinced its coloured), I usually have wholemeal rice and have come to love its nutty flavour. I also only have wholemeal bread and love Ciabatti bread.


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