Any doctor will tell you that the key to a healthy diet is moderation. Just as it’s unhealthy to consume too many deep fried fatty foods, it’s also unhealthy to eat only oranges. Finding a healthy balance between the good fats and the carbohydrates, while at the same time nourishing your mind and body is a complex task. It’s made even more complicated when you examine the needs of each organ by itself. It might seem a bit daunting to understand the often-complicated world of dietary needs organ by organ, but we are going to work on clarifying the needs for at least one of the most important ones – your heart.
While a doctor will give you general guidance for a healthy diet based on moderation, a cardiologist will tell you exactly what you need to keep your heart healthy and happy for many years to come. There are a lot of modern foods, especially prevalent in the take-out industry, that are extremely poor options when it comes to your heart. Typically, it isn’t until people reach middle age that they are gently reminded by their doctors to start thinking about their heart health in terms of their diet, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Why wait until you turn forty to make the change because by that point much of the damage has already been done. Yes, some milder heart issues can be treated with daily prescriptions, but why would you plan to rely on daily medications to keep your heart pumping when often heart health can be maintained with diet?
Many of the foods landed on this list due to their salt content alone. Consuming high levels of salt over a long period of time will eventually cause arteries to harden, increasing the risk for heart disease. Salt is also linked to obesity, which also goes hand in hand with poor heart health. Other foods on our list are high in cholesterol, unhealthy fats, sugars, or all of these combined. The fast food industry has definitely figured out the winning combination of salty, fatty and sweet to leave us wanting more, but this combination over prolonged periods of time will only break down the ability of our hearts to properly function. With this in mind, here are 7 of the worst foods for targeting heart health.
1. Red Meat
A more recent revelation in heart health, red meat is now linked to heart disease. This is because it is typically high in fat, cholesterol and a substance called L-carnitine. It’s recommended to keep your consumption of red meats (including pork) to at max 10% of your diet, and if possible to remove completely.
It seems only a few years ago that margarine was supposed to be a much healthier option than animal fats like butter, but the tables have dramatically turned. These days, margarine should be avoided because it is a source of unhealthy trans fatty acids which are bad for cardiovascular health.
3. Soda and Sugary Drinks
Diabetes is inextricably linked to increased risk of heart disease. Because soda is chock full of simple sugars that spike blood sugar levels, it is linked to an increased risk for both. The more soda consumed, the less control your body has over its own blood sugar levels and eventually this can cause heart disease. Soda is one of the primary culprits of excess dietary sugar, and is therefore one of the first things cut when trying to improve heart health.
4. American Chinese Food
When Chinese food made its way into America, it transformed into a staple of guilty pleasures everywhere. American Chinese food is a delicious concoction that bears no resemblance to a traditional diet from the Chinese mainland but is found all over North America. Many common dishes are deep fried, salty and dripping in sweet sauces. This combination should be avoided at all costs for keeping clear and functioning heart arteries.
Cheesy, salty, and delicious but dangerous nevertheless. The fast food industry knows exactly what to mix together to leave us craving more, and most of these delicious ingredients eventually make their way to our pizza slice. The crust is full of carbohydrates, the cheese is extremely fatty and the toppings are typically preserved meats, and every single one of the components is high in sodium. Although a slice of pizza every now and again won’t clog your arteries, it should be reserved for special occasions only and most importantly eaten in moderation.
6. Baked Treats
Hypertension, heart failure, cardiovascular disease and heart attack are not exactly what your mother had in mind when she baked those cookies, but unfortunately for you when baked treats are a part of your daily diet you are very likely to increase your risk for these serious heart issues. This is primarily because homemade desserts are high in simple sugars like white sugar, molasses, and other unhealthy sweeteners.
7. Canned Soup
Although canned soup remains a staple go-to-meal for many people around the world, it’s nearly always a chart topper for salt content. Despite the fact that it might be a vegetable soup, it contains little of the good vitamins and nutrients found in fresh vegetables. In order to prolong shelf life, it has been pumped full of salt. In a stereotypical can of tomato soup, you’ll find 600-800 mg of salt, which is nearly half of an ideal daily salt intake according to the American Heart Association.