Heart disease is among the leading causes of death and doctors are forever warning us about the importance of maintaining good cardiac health. We all know that eating right and exercising are the keys to staying healthy, but when it comes to which foods to avoid the reality may be a bit more surprising than you thought.
Here are the 10 worst foods for your heart that you may never have known about:
1. Cold Cuts – one of the most common dietary staples is the good, old-fashioned sandwich but even when we think we’re making healthy choices, including a sandwich in your diet every day could be taking a toll on your heart. That’s because cold cuts and cheese contain an extremely high amount of salt. Most cold cuts and deli cheese contain up to 250 milligrams of salt per slice, and with the average sandwich made up of at least three slices, that can be upwards of 1,000 milligrams of sodium in one sandwich. All of which adds up to a major no-no for your heart.
2. Coffee Creamer – trans fats are one of the biggest enemies of heart health. A diet high in these can lead to clogged arteries, which in turn reduce the ability of the heart to function properly. When it comes to adding unnecessary things to your diet one of the biggest culprits is the creamer you add to your coffee. It may not seem like a splash of creamer could do much harm, but when you count up the number of cups the average coffee drinker has per day, the numbers seem much more formidable. Many of the most popular brands have hydrogenated oils (trans fats) as a main ingredient. Milk or natural creamers are much healthier options if you need to add a little something to your coffee.
3. Blended Coffees – another hidden problem in your daily coffee, especially if you are a fan of mixed drinks like lattes and frappes, is sugar. Too much sugar can lead to diabetes, which increases your risk of heart disease. Blended coffees that add in syrup, sugar or whipped cream can be adding perilously to your sugar level while simultaneously increasing your blood pressure thanks to an increase of caffeine, all of which can be a deadly combination. Much safer to stick with plain coffee, and if you have to add in something use milk or cinnamon, which can actually help reduce the likelihood of heart damage.
4. Bouillon Cubes – fat is one of the big risk factors when it comes to heart disease. Carrying extra fat around your mid-section is particularly dangerous. But most people wouldn’t assume that drinking a cup or bowl of soup made from bouillon cubes could lead to dangerous weight gain. The problem here is high levels of monosodium glutamate, or MSG, a flavoring agent that can also serve to increase the appetite, causing you to over-eat and also increase your body’s production of insulin.
5. Tomato Sauce – while a bowl of spaghetti with tomato sauce might not sound too disastrous, take a closer look at the label on your jar of sauce and you might be unpleasantly surprised. Most commercial pasta sauces, like cold cuts, contain very high levels of sodium, which can make them bad for your heart health. Fortunately, many brands now feature low sodium versions of their sauce, so be sure to check the labels and opt for the low sodium variety whenever possible.
6. Ice Cream – everyone loves this sweet treat, but a single serving can contain up to 1/3 of your daily recommended intake of cholesterol. If you’re looking for a frozen treat, try frozen yogurt or Italian ice instead. Both can give you the same satisfying effect without raising your cholesterol to dangerous levels.
7. White Rice – while whole grains can be extremely good for hearth health, nutrient-stripped refined grains like white rice are just the opposite. Studies actually show that eating white rice can increase blood sugar levels and put you at a greater risk for diabetes. Much better to stick with all-natural whole grains.
8. Fruit Juice – It may seem especially strange to see something as natural and seemingly good for you as fruit juice included on this list, but it can be more dangerous than you realize. That’s because most fruit juice is loaded with fructose, a type of sugar that is directly linked to developing belly fat. Water flavored with raspberries, blueberries or strawberries is much better for you and much less likely to cause you to develop an expanding gut.
9. Cottage Cheese – another food that is routinely included in healthy diet menus due to its high protein count, cottage cheese can actually be much worse for your heart than most people realize thanks to the extremely high levels of salt it contains. One cup of cottage cheese can contain as much as 700 mg of salt, which is more than a third of the recommended daily intake. So don’t fool yourself into thinking that cottage cheese is a healthy choice, at least not when it comes to your cardiovascular system.
10. Margarine – there has been a great deal of debate over whether margarine or butter is better for your health, but once again don’t believe the hype. While margarine may have once been touted as the healthy solution, in reality it contains high levels of partially-hydrogenated oils, a prime source of dangerous trans-fats. Natural butter is the healthier alternative, as long as you use it in moderation.
So should I avoid all of these foods
Absolutely not. In fact, a few of these, such as cottage cheese, tomato sauce and even ice cream, contain nutrients that are actually quite beneficial to your heart and overall health. You just need to be aware that if you are eating any one or a few of them in excess, you might be causing unnecessary damage to your heart.
The bottom line is, always look at ingredient labels to see what is actually inside your food and drinks. If you just can’t live without your creamer or cheese, choose healthier varieties that contain less fat, less sodium and preferably no trans fats whatsoever. That way, you are reducing your risk of a heart attack and stroke, and at the end of the day, that’s what we all strive to do.