You try to eat healthy when you can, but today’s fast-paced lifestyles can make swinging by the drive-through or grabbing a packaged snack an attractive choice.
But too much fast food and processed snacks can lead to heart disease and other ailments. The next time you’re in the grocery store or looking for a quick meal or snack, try to avoid these foods—largely considered the worst foods for your heart.
While it may be tasty and convenient, fast food isn’t the best choice for your heart. That’s because fast food contains high amounts of saturated fats (and sometimes even trans fats, which are worse). Though some saturated fats from high-quality sources of meat and dairy can be beneficial, if you consume high amounts of saturated and trans fats from low-quality sources—like fast food—they can be detrimental to your heart health.
Processed meats like bacon, salami and sausage are another source of saturated fats and are some of the worst foods for your heart. Not only that, most deli and cured meats pack a hefty dose of sodium, which can cause high blood pressure—a heart health killer. Though it can be tempting to pile a sandwich high with deli meats, it’s recommended you don’t eat more than two servings per week (three ounces per serving).
Are you noticing a theme? Fried foods should be limited because, you guessed it, the majority are high in saturated fat and trans fats, which increases your risk of heart disease. Conventional frying produces these fats, but if you’re frying something at home, like a stir fry, try using coconut or olive oils instead of standard vegetable oil.
Highly Refined or Processed Carbohydrates
These are things like processed white bread, low fiber, sugary cereals, or packaged baked goods. The high levels of processing that produce these foods often strip them of the healthy fiber, minerals and phytonutrients that come with whole grain options that can cleanse your arteries. Processing can also add in some unhealthy ingredients like trans fats, sugar and sodium. The whole grain versions of bread, cereals or baked goods can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. But if you indulge in an occasional processed snack, limit your servings to no more than seven per week.
Candy and Baked Goods
You might think sugary drinks and treats are on this list because of their fat content. While it’s not as highly publicized as its fat counterpart, foods containing sugar are some of the worst foods for your heart. Sugar has all of the negative effects on the heart as highly processed carbohydrates. If you eat too much added sugar, it can raise your blood pressure and increase chronic inflammation, which can lead to heart disease. If you consume added sugars, it’s recommended you keep your servings to one eight-ounce portion per day, with no more than seven servings per week.
So what should you eat? Those with diets high in fruits, vegetables and other natural food sources can significantly decrease their factors for heart disease. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a chore. By watching your intake of the above foods, you can help keep your heart healthy for years to come and lower your risk of heart disease. If you want to improve your heart health, find a physician today who can help answer your questions.