You’ve heard, I’m sure, about those “certain foods” that multiply your risks of heart disease and it’s many complications. The ten heart health troublemakers found in food and are responsible for:
which occurs when the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body (arteries) become thick and stiff — sometimes restricting blood flow to your organs and tissues.
Note: Atherosclerosis is a specific type of arteriosclerosis.
- Atherosclerosis refers to the buildup of fats, cholesterol, etc., in and on the walls of your arteries. The buildups are called “plaques.” and can restrict blood flow.
➡ Premature death
The top 5 causes of premature death in the U.S. include:
• heart disease
• lung disease
• liver disease
But, the number one self-care step we can take to prevent these complications and early death is learning about the ten heart health troublemakers found in food…they are chasing all of us.
This type of animal protein is high in saturated fat.
It’s okay to have a lean cut of steak in moderation but think of it as a treat, rather than part of your everyday diet.
- The best choices are lean or extra-lean sirloin, round roasts, and sirloin tips.
Broiling or cooking on an open flame is a healthy cooking method because they allow the fat to drip off the meat, as opposed to frying where the meat sits in its own fat in the pan.
Processed meats like bacon, hot dogs, sausage, and even deli meats are high in sodium, fat and most are loaded with harmful preservatives.
- They often include added nitrates and nitrites, which have both been linked to certain heart problems and cancers, among other medical conditions.
Processed meats also have more saturated fat and less protein than any self-prepared meats.
- Doughy, cheese covered, pepperoni laced pizza pies contain about 2/3 of the maximum daily recommended saturated fat amount, and most pizza ingredients, especially take-out pizzas, are processed foods that are chock full of sodium.
A healthier option is to make your own pizza at home where you control the ingredients.
- Some options include using, whole-wheat thin crust, fresh vegetables, lean chicken breast, fresh tomatoes or homemade tomato sauce and low-fat cheese.
These choices greatly improve the health factor of pizza allowing you to enjoy it without threatening the health of your heart.
Again…I love it. But: Alfredo sauce itself is full of saturated fat and calories since it is a combination of butter, heavy cream, and cheese.
And, of course, there’s the white pasta, which provides no nutrients whatsoever, regardless of what it says on the package.
Consider it a top contender in the category of the Ten Heart Health Troublemakers Found In Food.
Fettuccini Alfredo (without the chicken) is one of the all-time favorites at restaurants like Olive Garden, but take a look at what you’re eating – in one serving:
:arrow: 1220 calories (675 of them pure fat)
➡ 75 grams of total fat (115% of your daily allowance: 47 of those grams are saturated fats, which translates to a whopping 235% of your daily allowance.)
➡ 1350 grams of sodium – a not-so-cool 56% of your daily allowance.
Those numbers may leave you wondering if you can ever eat that again. The answer is yes, but moderation is the key.
If you really love it, you can make a delicious version at home which is much healthier and which you can enjoy more often.
- Use whole grain pasta
- Make a homemade Alfredo sauce with either plain yogurt or low-fat milk and cheese
- Add some fresh vegetables to the mix for a nutrition boost.
5. Trans Fats
Trans fats are a major headache for this cardiology specialist and diabetes educator…
- These are fatty acids, created through the processes that make vegetable oils more solid (hydrogenated).
They are cheap to make and are often used in prepared and/or pre-packaged food to give them a longer shelf life. They can also be re-used for frying.
- However…they are dangerous instigators of LDL cholesterol, the bad guy that clogs your arteries.
They are what put your heart at risk.
They are at the top of the list of the Ten Heart Health Troublemakers Found In Food.
While trans fats raise your LDL cholesterol, they also lower your good cholesterol, which is HDL.
- You know what I’m going to recommend: Read the labels and reduce trans fat intake.
The authority on this is the American Heart Association. They recommend a daily calorie intake from trans fats of no more than 1%. (ONE) percent.
Many restaurants tend to reuse their frying oils over and over again, causing the fat to become more and more saturated.
How you fry food makes a huge difference.
- Shortening is one of the worst substances to use, and multiple restaurants still use it for frying.
Generally, fried foods are never recommended for heart health.
- Instead, choose healthier cooking methods, like grilling with heart-healthy olive or canola oil.
Heavy intake of refined sugar sets you up for Type 2 diabetes and obesity, huge risk factors for heart disease.
- Soda can spike your insulin levels to such a degree that even if you drink only one can per a day, you can increase your risk of suffering a heart attack by up to 20%.
Choose green tea, ice tea, plain or flavored water or seltzer instead. And read the articles listed at the bottom of this page about diet sodas and artificial sweeteners.
Every starving student’s favorite meal, has 1500 milligrams or more of sodium, in each serving…one little package.
- What you save in dollars, you pay for in cholesterol levels and heart disease risks.
We always circle back to fast foods, and for good reasons. While you may not “notice” their effects immediately, the great majority of fast foods are full of trans fat; saturated fat, sodium and/or sugar.
The negative effects on your heart from fast foods are almost immediate.
➡ After only one fast food meal, the ability of your blood vessels to dilate, that is, expand or become wider to allow blood to flow, drops by as much as 24%.
- A cheeseburger alone can have up to 1000 calories.
Out for a fancier breakfast or brunch?
- Eggs combined with an English muffin, butter, and fat-filled Hollandaise sauce, not to mention the addition of Canadian bacon, delivers nearly 700 calories and about 35 grams of fat.
Your heart is not amused.
There are other better, healthier, life-promoting choices out there, but it takes effort and diligence to find them. It’s the you-gotta-wanna-do-it factor.
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