When it comes to keeping your heart healthy, there are certain foods that, depending on your level of heart health and risk levels for heart disease, you should either avoid, or eat in extreme moderation. Artery-clogging foods can be some of the worst food culprits and can have adverse effects on your overall heart health.
Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the Unites States alone. It includes a variety of conditions, including stroke, clogged arteries that may cause cardiac arrest or require bypass surgery, high cholesterol, heart attack, and premature death.
If the following ten foods are a part of your everyday diet, it could lead to some serious problems for your heart.
1.) Red Meat
Red meat is an animal protein that is high in saturated fat, and is not good for your heart when eaten in excess. It’s okay to have steak in moderation, but it should be something you treat yourself to a couple of times a week, and not a part of your daily meals.
Lean and/or extra-lean sirloins, round roasts and sirloin tips are some of your best once-in-a-while red meat choices for a healthier heart. It is also a good idea to trim the fat off your steak; this is the white marble portion of the steak or roast.
Broiling or cooking on an open flame are healthy cooking methods because they allow the fat to drip off the meat, as opposed to frying where the meat sits in its own fat in the pan.
2.) Processed Meat
Processed meats like bacon, hot dogs, sausage, and even deli meats are high in sodium, fat and may contain many preservatives. They often include added nitrates and nitrites, which have both been linked to causing certain heart problems. Processed meats also have more saturated fat and less protein than any self-prepared meats.
Doughy, cheese covered, pepperoni laced pizza pies contain about 2/3 of the maximum daily recommended saturated fat amount, and most pizza ingredients, especially take-out pizzas, are processed foods that are chock full of sodium.
It is much a healthier option to make your own pizza at home where you control the ingredients. Some options include, using, whole-wheat thin crust, fresh vegetables, lean chicken breast, fresh tomatoes or homemade tomato sauce and low-fat cheese.
These options greatly improve the health factor of pizza so you can still enjoy it without it threatening the health of your heart.
4.) Fettuccine Alfredo
Alfredo sauce itself is full of saturated fat and calories, since it is a combination of butter, heavy cream, and cheese, then there is the white pasta, and none of the ingredients provides any impressive nutrients.
Most people eat this dish at a restaurant, and here is what you get with Olive Garden’s Fettuccini Alfredo entrée, this is without chicken, which most people order:
1220 calories (675 from fat)
75 grams of total fat (115% daily value)
- 47 of which grams are saturated fat (235% daily value)
1350 grams of sodium (56% daily value)
WOW! Look at those numbers! Can you never eat it again? No, of course, moderation is key, but if you love it, you can make a healthier version at home that you can enjoy more often.
Use whole grain pasta and make a homemade Alfredo sauce with either plain yogurt or low-fat milk and cheese, and add some fresh veggies to the mix for an added nutrition boost.
5.) Trans Fats
Trans fats are fatty acids that are created through the processes that make vegetable oils more solid (hydrogenated). They are cheap to create and they are often used in processed foods that are prepared and/or pre-packaged to have a longer shelf life. They can also be re-used for frying purposes.
Trans fats raise your bad LDL cholesterol levels and they lower your good HDL cholesterol levels. This is what puts your heart at risk. Read the labels and reduce trans fat intake, the American Heart Association recommends 1% or less of daily calorie intake from trans fats.
6.) Fried Foods
Many restaurants tend to reuse their frying oils many times over again, causing the fat to become more and more saturated. How you fry food makes a huge difference. Shortening is one of the worst, and a number of restaurants still fry with it.
Fried foods in general are never recommended for heart health; choose healthier cooking methods, like grilling with heart-healthy olive or canola oil.
Heavy intake of refined sugar causes type 2 diabetes and obesity, both of which are huge risk factors for heart disease. Soda can spike your insulin levels by such a high amount that even if you drink only one can per a day, you can increase your risk of suffering a heart attack by up to 20%.
Choose green tea, ice tea, plain or flavored water or seltzer instead.
8.) Ramen Noodles
The cheap meal of ramen noodles has up to 1500 milligrams or more of sodium in each serving. What you save in dollars, you pay for in cholesterol levels and heart disease risks.
9.) Fast Foods
Many fast foods are full of trans fat; saturated fat, sodium and/or sugar, and the effects on your heart are almost immediate.
According to a 2012 study, after only one fast food meal, the dilation ability of your blood vessels drops by as much as 24%. A cheeseburger alone can have up to 1000 calories.
10.) Eggs Benedict
Eggs combined with the English muffin, butter and fat-filled Hollandaise sauce, not to mention the addition of Canadian bacon, delivers nearly 700 calories and about 35 grams of fat, not heart-healthy at all.