The human heart is a central, crucial organ for sustaining life and is considered to be the engine of the body. Each pump of the heart distributes oxygen and nutrients through the body by way of the circulatory system, removing carbon dioxide and waste products along the way.
This continuous circulation supports the proper functioning of each bodily system. Because the heart plays such a major role, it is crucial to keep it healthy and in great working order. Therefore, it is essential to nourish it with heart-healthy foods. The British Heart Foundation says that even small changes to your everyday habits can impact your heart health dramatically.
A diet focused on heart-healthy foods is not only good for your heart but also contributes to your overall health and can enhance longevity and quality of life. Harvard Medical School suggests that consuming a diet of heart-healthy foods is a great way to maintain good health and prevent cardiovascular disease. With this in mind, let's look at the 7 foods you should limit or avoid to keep your heart beating in good health.
A general rule of thumb is if a food is convenient, check the nutrition label. Many foods that are made to be easy, such as frozen meals, are high in sodium, unhealthy fats, and preservatives.
High levels of sodium, unhealthy fats, and added sugars are often found in packaged snacks, chips, and other ready-to-eat meals.
Vegetables and homemade soups are usually very healthy and satisfying. However, canned soups and canned vegetables tend to have very high levels of sodium.
Sausage, bacon, and other processed meats are high in sodium and saturated fats. Eating these foods on a regular basis increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Limit These Processed Foods:
Sugar is a dangerous little ingredient. Too much sugar in your diet can lead to all kinds of health issues. Soda, energy drinks, sweetened juices, and iced teas energy drinks often sneak a lot of extra sugar into them. This added sugar not only raises the risk of heart disease but also leads to obesity, increased triglycerides in the blood, and diabetes.
If you think your breakfast cereal is healthy, check the nutrition label. Go ahead, we'll wait... I'll bet you had no idea it contained so much added sugar! Some breakfast cereals are also loaded with refined carbohydrates too. These foods are nutrition busters with excessive sugar and a lack of important nutrients, which lead to weight gain and heart problems.
Limit These Sugary Foods:
White bread, white rice, cakes, cookies, and pastries made from fine flour can lead to high blood sugar levels and inflammation. These foods can cause insulin resistance by raising blood sugar levels and increasing the risk of weight gain and inflammation.
Those little snack cakes, muffins, and doughnuts from commercial bakeries can have a major impact on your health. Not only do they contain a lot of sugar, but these commercial baked goods also often contain trans fats which contribute to inflammation and cholesterol imbalances and negatively affect the health of your heart.
According to the Mayo Clinic, alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Too much alcohol can lead to many unhealthy issues and increase your risk of stroke, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia and other heart diseases.
Excessive alcohol has also been linked to cancer, liver disease and alcoholism. If you do drink, check with your doctor to determine a safe level of drinking.
You may think that you are doing your body a favor by switching sugar with artificial sweeteners. There have been many trials on the effects of sugar substitutes on the body. While most are inconclusive, most researchers agree that investigation is still necessary.
A study in The Nature Journal suggests that artificial sweeteners such as erythritol can have a negative impact on the body and affect metabolism and heart health. This research showed erythritol does not metabolize quickly and stays in the bloodstream for more than two days.
The best way to make healthy food unhealthy is to fry it. Oils used for frying contain trans fats and can cause inflammation and increase cholesterol levels. Many fried and processed foods contain hydrogenated oils known as trans fats.
Fried Foods to Limit:
Fast food is very convenient, but it adds unnecessary, unhealthy fats, sodium, and calories to your diet. The harmful fats, salt, and calories lead to weight gain and high cholesterol and will increase the risk of heart problems.
These harmful ingredients often lead to inflammation, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels. When trans fats enter the bloodstream, they increase LDL levels (known as bad cholesterol), lower HDL levels (good cholesterol), and increase the risk of heart disease and clogged arteries.
A balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruit, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats is essential for good heart health. Choose unprocessed foods that are low in sugar and unhealthy fats. Maintain a healthy weight and get regular exercise to reduce your risk of heart disease.
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Linda Guerrera has been the Digital Content Manager for Health Products For You since 2022. A recipient of the New York State Broadcasters Award for Outstanding Work in Radio, she spent over ...
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