An instant pot with hearts floating around it

Using My Instant Pot for Heart Failure-Friendly Foods

As a heart failure patient, I have found that the only way to eat a low sodium diet consistently is to cook your own food at home. Restaurant and pre-packaged food is loaded with salt. In fact, as someone who sees a heart failure specialist, before appointments they always ask how many times a week I am eating out or eating pre-packaged food, and this is the reason why. However, cooking 3 meals a day, 7 days a week is a lot work, especially for someone with a disease that causes fatigue and shortness of breath.

Personally, I have found that an Instant Pot Pressure Cooker has made cooking easier (not easy, but easier), so I wanted to share in case others are contemplating purchasing one.

To start, the Instant Pot using high pressure to cook. It is slightly more complex to learn because we are not used to cooking with pressure, but (like anything else) once you learn it's very navigable. As far as brands, we have a brand-name Instant Pot and no complaints so far!

Lastly, keep in mind that if you want one you can purchase online for delivery, so no runs to Target required. That's a win in my book!

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Why the Instant Pot can be a good choice for heart failure patients

One pot cooking

It's an electric pressure cooker but also a slow cooker, yogurt maker, rice cooker, big sauté pot, and steamer. The Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker, but has 6 other cooking modes as well. This means that you can cook many different things with this one gadget, and you can even cook multiple things in one pot.

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For instance, with an Instant Pot you can cook beans and rice at the same time. This means less moving around, less grabbing for multiple pots/pans and easier clean up. This is important because as a person with heart failure and accompanying symptoms, in my experience, you have to look at the energy required for the whole event.

In this case, that can include planning, shopping, hauling into the house, cooking and cleaning up. For me bending over can be tough, so loading and unloading a dishwasher, or even standing on my feet to wash by hand, is energy by the end that I probably don't have. Having it be one pot makes everything easier, not easy but easier because with the cooking and cleanup aspect of preparing a meal.

Safe and easy to use

In my opinion, the Instant Pot is safe and easy to use. I just lock it up and let it go. You do not have to keep an eye on the stove, meaning you can sit down and catch your breath. While learning you might overcook or undercook, but I've not come close to any serious incident.

Cooks quickly

Some food, like beans, require prep. Or like rice and meat, can take awhile to cook. So, as far as active energy, there is a definite amount of planning required to use these ingredients in a meal, and this mental effort can be draining when you already have little energy. With an Instant Pot, you can have beans and rice on the table in 25 minutes from start to finish without presoaking.

Plenty of capacity

The 8 quart model can fit nicely on your counter and cook large quantities at once, like hunts of meat, lots of chicken breast, etc. You can cook in bulk then freeze for later. For instance, shredded chicken is heart healthy and can be used in so many ways, like rice and beans! Also, many recipes online allow you to double and triple a recipe, so with the Instant Pot and that combined, you really can easily cook in larger quantities to freeze for later.

Easy to get started

Recipes are easy to find online as well as the instruction book with the machine has simply starter recipes.

Here is a intro recipe for good rice beans. And you can add shredded chicken as well!

Instant Pot rice and beans

1/4 cup dry red kidney or black beans
1/2 cup dry brown rice
1 cup salsa (low or no salt) - might have to make your own to get no salt
1/2 bunch cilantro, stems and leaves divided
3 cups vegetable broth (low or no salt) - might have to make your own to get no salt
2 cups water

If you choose NO salt salsa and broth, you might have the extra sodium to add cheddar cheese, low fat sour cream or use a corn tortilla as a wrapping because you literally have no salt added in this recipe. For instance, Kraft Shredded Cheddar Cheese is 130mg of sodium 1/4 a cup.


First, chop your cilantro, keeping the leaves and stems roughly separated. Add the dried beans and rice to the bottom of your Instant Pot. Gently pour the vegetable broth and water over the rice and beans, then give everything a good stir.

Next, add the salsa and stems of the cilantro into the pot. Do not mix! Close the Instant Pot, set the valve to sealing, and use the manual mode to cook on high for 25 Minutes. One the cook time finishes, let the Instant Pot release pressure for an additional 10 Minutes (leave the “keep warm” feature on).

Finally, move the valve from sealing to venting to release all remaining pressure, and serve the beans and rice warm. Garnish with the chopped cilantro leaves, and anything else you desire like no salt tortilla chips for crisp!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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