What not to eat for your heart
Just as important as eating well for your heart, is avoiding foods that are bad for your heart. Prioritising whole foods, fresh fruits and vegetables is the easy part. But what about pizza, hot chips and sweets? They have ingredients like trans fats, refined grains and sugar that can increase the risk of heart disease and other cardiac issues. Keep your ticker in tip-top shape by avoiding the following worst foods for your heart.
Processed and cured meats
Processed and cured meats, including cold cuts, bacon and hot dogs, are some of the worst foods for your heart because of their high amount of saturated fats. Plaque buildup, hardening of the arteries and saturated fats are all connected, according to Dr Barbara George, a cardiovascular specialist. “Saturated fats raise your ‘bad’ cholesterol, or LDL, as compared to ‘good’ cholesterol, or HDL,” she says.
A 2020 study in JAMA Internal Medicine found a link between red and processed meat and a higher risk of heart disease and death. But research on processed meat being bad for your heart goes back some time. A research review from 2012 in Current Atherosclerosis Reports by Harvard University researchers found that eating processed meats is associated with a 42 per cent higher risk of heart disease.
The bottom line: Limit cold cut sandwiches and save hot dogs for a rare indulgence. If you plan to continue eating animal meats, turn to the best meat options such as lean red meat, skinless chicken, ground turkey or fish, especially fish rich in omega-3s like salmon, cod and tuna, Dr George suggests.
Refined and processed grains
Some of the worst foods for your heart are processed foods, according to Dr Nieca Goldberg, the medical director of NYU Women’s Heart Program in New York. “Processed foods cause sharp increases in sugar and insulin levels,” Dr Goldberg explains. “And then the levels sharply decrease, leaving you more hungry and then you eat more.”
Processed foods often contain refined grains, including white flour or white rice. A 2017 study in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine found that refined grain intake was associated with a 9.4 per cent higher risk of heart disease.