Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.? It is often linked to other health issues like obesity and diabetes, but by eating the right foods you may be able to stop these issues progressing and improve your heart health for years to come.
The heart is our most vital organ but sometimes we may overlook caring for it. Read on for the foods that are bad for your heart which you should avoid at all costs. These are the foods that you need to ditch from your diet and you will have a healthy heart to show for it.
Foods That Are High In Salt
Whilst you may know that eating foods that are high in salt can raise your blood pressure, you may not know that when high blood pressure goes unchecked it can cause your arteries to harden and narrow, increasing your risk of heart disease. Recent studies have linked obesity to high sodium intake and found that overweight men with the highest salt intakes are 61 percent more likely to die of heart disease than those who have lower intakes.
The salt in some foods such as chips and pretzels is readily apparent but there are other foods which have a high sodium content that may be surprising to you…
Some pre-packaged soups will have a large amount of salt in them, this seasoning is added for flavor but there is often a lot more than you would expect. Be sure to check the label and remember that your daily intake of salt should be no more than 6 grams (NHS UK) so if your soup makes up a good chunk of this, then maybe you should try homemade.
Tip: Watch out, soups served in restaurants can be just as bad if not worse than store bought options, and there you were thinking you were going for the healthy option!
Canned vegetables are often packed with preservatives and sauces that are high in salt. Opt for low or no salt options and always rinse your veggies, or even better go for frozen. Frozen vegetables make for a better alternative, they are just as convenient as canned varieties and packed with even more goodness.
Sandwich Meat & Cheese
Cold cuts of sandwich meat and cheese can contain an average of 250 milligrams of sodium per slice. Plus they are often enjoyed with bread and sauces, which makes for a sodium packed meal. We have some delicious lunch alternatives in our Belly Fat Diet Plan for Women.
When you come home from a long day at work the easiest thing to do is to reach for that ready meal, but be careful, ready meals contain a great deal of salt, as well as saturated fat and other nasties. Instead try preparing and portioning your meals from fresh ingredients one day per week and refrigerating or freezing them until the day you need them, then just defrost and heat them up.
Surprisingly, tomato sauces for pasta can often contain high levels of salt and sugar. Look for low salt and sugar varieties with fewer than 350 milligrams per half cup serving, like Ragu Light No Sugar Added Tomato & Basil.
Try cutting back on the condiments. It’s not just your heart health that will suffer from consuming high sodium foods, your waistline will too. Ketchup contains 167 milligrams of salt per tablespoon.
Foods That Are High In Fat
Foods that are high in so-called bad cholesterol, saturated and trans fats can lead to high cholesterol. Having high cholesterol can in turn clog your arteries with plaques and increase the risk of heart disease. There are some foods such as pizza and French fries which we know are high in fat and calories but are there any more surprising ones?
This one should come as no surprise to most people. These pies are one of the most potent sources of trans fats that you can buy in a store. Studies have found a strong positive correlation between diets that are high in trans fat and incidence of heart disease. Whether they are sweet or savory, you should check the label and opt for a healthier alternative or even better make your own.
Traditional coffee creamers often contain high levels of trans fats in the form of hydrogenated oil. Trans fats have been shown to raise cholesterol levels and diminish memory in adults under 45 years old. Instead opt for milk, you can read our rundown of the best non-dairy milk substitutes here. Black, white and green tea can also make a nice alternative to coffee.
Butter alternatives like margarine are often made with partially-hydrogenated oils, one of the most common sources of trans-fats. You may have heard that this type of fat is linked to heart disease, but what most people don’t know is that it may also accelerate the skin’s aging process by making the skin more vulnerable to ultraviolet radiation.
Foods That Will Send Your Blood Sugar Through The Roof
Impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes increase your risk of heart disease. That said, a major part of keeping your heart healthy involves keeping your blood sugar levels in check. These foods can lead to sharp blood sugar spikes…
Your Starbucks blended coffee with cream or syrup can contain 25 teaspoons of sugar per cup. The sugar overload will cause your blood glucose levels to soar and increase your blood pressure which is not good if you are trying to ward off diabetes and heart disease.
Your favorite Chinese takeaway usually contains sugary sauces and deep fried breading. Your meal will often be extremely high in fat, sodium, carbs and calories. If you are really attached to your takeaways, try cutting down how frequently you order, make it a monthly treat and ask them to hold the rice, boiling your own brown rice instead.
Pastries are usually high in sugar and contain refined flour which will cause your blood sugar to spike. They also often have high levels of saturated fat which is linked to inflammation and can cause excess belly fat. A sweet treat is fine now and then, but it is best to try and limit your intake of unhealthy fats as much as possible.
Alternatives: Try snacking on rice cakes topped with almond butter or a handful of unsalted nuts. For the chocoholics, try a few squares of dark chocolate or our Chocoholic smoothie made with cacao.
White rice is rice that has been refined and stripped of most of its nutrients. These refined grains (white bread is another) have been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Instead opt for wholemeal bread or brown rice. Just check that your wholemeal bread isn’t packed with sugar, sourdough or buckwheat varieties can be better.
Many processed meats contain nitrates, a preservative that interferes with the body’s natural ability to process sugar, and thereby increases the risk of developing diabetes. They are also loaded with sodium, which contributes to high blood pressure, can make you bloat and set you up to develop heart disease.
Foods That Will Have You Piling On The Belly Fat
Obesity and belly fat have long been linked to cardiovascular disease. That’s because the more fat that’s stored in your midsection, the higher your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels are bound to be. The fat inside the belly area is termed visceral fat, and it can be seriously harmful. It is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. People with excess belly fat are at an increased risk of these diseases, even if they may look thin on the outside.
Click for the list of 5 Foods To Avoid To Lose Belly Fat that includes diet soda and fruit juice.
For tips on how to cut down on sugar check out Tips for a Sugar Detox.
Don’t need any more foods to add to your “Do Not Eat” list? Check out this post for some things you can eat… 10 Foods That Help You Lose Belly Fat.