10 Worst Foods for Your Heart

What’s on your plate can help maintain your cardiac capacity. “Heart-healthy foods contain nutrients that have been shown to benefit the cardiovascular system or reduce the risk of developing heart disease by lowering ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and blood triglycerides, reducing blood pressure, controlling weight and/or improving insulin sensitivity,” says Rania Batayneh, MPH and the author of The One One One Diet.

Omega-3s, potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants earn top marks in these categories, making the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet top choices for those seeking to maintain or improve heart health.

Science backs up this premise: A menu centered around produce, whole grains, nuts and beans, plus a little dairy and heart-healthy fats can help reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease by about a third, according to a 2016 study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. So which foods get the green light from dietitians and which ones get the red light?

Here are the 10 worst foods for your heart!

Processed deli meats

Ditch the deli. “Even the lower-fat versions of cured lunch meats contain the preservative sodium nitrate,” says Suzanne Fisher, RD, LDN, in Cooper City, Florida. Nitrates may increase internal inflammation, and “chronic inflammation has a direct link to the development of atherosclerosis,” the stiffening or narrowing of the arteries, she adds.

Hot dogs

Linked closely to cold cuts is another cured meat option: franks. “Hot dogs and sausages can be high in saturated fat. Even low-fat options tend to be packed with salt. It’s important to watch your sodium intake, as more dietary sodium often leads to higher blood pressure,” Batayneh says.

Rotisserie chicken

Same goes for supermarket roasted birds—they often contain far more sodium and saturated fat than your typical home-cooked poultry products if you purchase them fully seasoned and with skin on. Roast your own at home to control the amount of added sodium or seek out an unseasoned chicken and remove the skin to trim down on saturated fat.

Ketchup

You might want to shake up your condiment strategy, as many store-bought ones are loaded with added sugar and/or sodium. “Ketchup is very high in sodium as well,” says Juan Rivera, MD, a cardiologist in Miami, Florida and chief medical correspondent for Univision Network and the author of The Mojito Diet.

Just two tablespoons contains 320 milligrams of sodium—14 percent of the way to your daily suggested limit of 2,300 milligrams, recommended by the American Heart Association. Plus, it boasts eight grams of sugar per two-tablespoon serving.

Barbecue sauce

In related condiment news, it’s best for your heart to steer clear of (or go light on) the sauce at your cookout. A couple tablespoons of the typical bottle variety has about 310 milligrams of sodium.

Table salt

About 70 percent of our total sodium consumption comes from food we find in packages or eat at restaurants. Another 15 percent is found naturally in ingredients. But that leaves another 15 percent or so of sodium that we’re completely in control of adding ourselves, either via the salt shaker on the table or by the spoonful into recipes.

Start by adding half of what a recipe calls for, and scale up to only use what you need. So you don’t shake on extra out of habit, leave the salt in the kitchen and only bring it to the table if you need it after the first bite.

Reduced-fat salad dressings

What makes reduced-fat salad dressings a cardiac crime is that they’re actually hidden sources of sugar and salt, says Fisher. “When fat is removed, sugar is typically added to maintain the taste and texture,” she says. Just because it’s low in fat or calories, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

“I recommend my clients to look beyond macronutrients. Even when macros fall perfectly in line with what’s traditionally recommended for fat, carbohydrates and protein levels, a diet can fall short on nutrition,” Fisher says. “For example, are the carbohydrate sources highly-processed and low in fiber? Is the protein lean? Is the fat heart-healthy?”

Fat-free packaged snacks

Even worse than reduced-fat is unnaturally zero-fat. “Fat-free packaged foods were once touted as a healthy option for individuals wanting to lose weight and maintain a healthier lifestyle,” Fisher says. No longer. A good rule of thumb: Avoid any product that is not normally fat-free. What it doesn’t have in fat, it makes up for in sugar.

“Read food labels and ingredient lists to determine many grams of sugar may have been added as a fat substitute. Many types of natural fats are healthy and promote satiety, which in the long run can reduce cravings and overeating,” she continues.

Fat-free peanut butter

Seek out an all-natural, full-fat and sugar-free nut butter for a great source of heart healthy monounsaturated fats. “Low-fat peanut butters usually contain the same amount of calories as its conventional counterpart. Again, you’re trading fat for sugar,” Fisher says.

The ingredient list should read: “Peanuts, Salt.” You’ll earn bonus points from Fisher if you can spot or grind up a jar that’s made with nuts alone (in other words, without extra sodium).

Sugary cereal

In another example of “not all fats are bad,” take a second look at the nutrition label of your cold cereal. Does it have more than eight grams of sugar per serving to make up for its low-fat level? Skip it.

“Dietary fat was the enemy for so many years. Now, most experts agree that a diet high in added sugar may be just as big of a threat by contributing to obesity, inflammation, high cholesterol and diabetes—all of which are risk factors for heart disease,” Batayneh says.

Facebook
Twitter
WhatsApp
Pinterest
Reddit
Delicious
LinkedIn
Facebook
Twitter
WhatsApp

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

READ NEXT

5 Side Effects of Drinking Too Much Lemon Water

We all know that lemon water has a long list of benefits including preventing dehydration, assisting with digestion, and supporting weight loss. But, like most things in life, you can

15 Common Diseases Doctors Often Get Wrong

Doctors are some of the smartest people around, but even they make mistakes after years of experience. Doctors often only have a short period (just 13 or so minutes!) to

5 of the Healthiest Salads You Can Eat

Do Eat: Greek Salad Registered dietitian Andy De Santis says, “The main strength of the Greek salad is its high monounsaturated fat content which comes from the olive oil and

8 Clear Signs You Need to Move More

While we all know that lack of exercise can lead to obesity, there are some lesser known things about lack of movement you should definitely know. Moving your body means

11 Signs You’re Way Too Dehydrated

Dehydration is a common health condition in which the body loses more water (whether through sweating, urinating, or breathing) than it takes in. The amount of fluid needs to be

Major Symptoms of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) develops when your pancreas doesn’t make or release enough of the enzymes which help your digestive system break down food and absorb nutrients. This enzyme shortage

10 Best Ways to Strengthen Your Bones

Maintaining bone health is essential at all stages of life and even if you have strong bones, you shouldn’t take this for granted. Bone conditions can occur at any age

5 Signs of Iron Deficiency You Shouldn’t Ignore

Iron deficiency is a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells. It is often underdiagnosed—and undiscovered. Watch out for these signs that you’ve developed iron deficiency anemia.

10 Foods That May Become Toxic During Summer

Burgers Undercooked meat puts you at risk for potentially life-threatening illness from a subtype of E. coli bacteria called O157:H7. “Your risk largely depends on the number of cows making

6 Signs You Need to See Your Dentist Right Away

If you’re having pain, bleeding, swelling, or other unusual symptoms in your mouth, it’s best to seek urgent dental care before the underlying problem becomes worse, says ADA spokesperson Ana

5 Incredible Secrets to Lose Weight

Have you ever wondered how is to lose weight with delicious meals? With so many temptations around us, we can’t really lose weight. Just think that one burrito has 1.000

Scroll to Top