If it’s fast and convenient – and mass produced – you probably want to make it a treat rather than a regular part of your diet.
Stop it, you’re killing me! Your heart isn’t complimenting you on your great taste in jokes. It’s sending you a silent plea to stop chowing down on certain foods that are basically shortening your life by making it very difficult for your heart to do its job.
Not all food is created equal. You already know this. It’s impossible not to reach a certain age and have heard about what overconsumption of saturated fats or even sodium can do to your heart and cardiovascular system. There’s no reason, though, to remove all the joy from eating in order to be healthy. You’re about to read a list of foods that really are heart-killers—which simply means you should make them occasional treats instead of a part of your regular diet.
A burger from your favorite fast-food chain
Okay, the debate rages on about whether there’s a true correlation between heart disease and saturated fats from red meat. There are also interesting results from studies showing that high-quality grass-fed beef might have some heart-health benefits—when consumed in moderation.
While the debate continues, do your heart a favor and avoid fast-food burgers. They taste good, but it’s often because of processed ingredients to compensate for lower quality beef and unhealthy cooking methods. Saturated fats from animal meats combined with carbohydrates—which is the “TLDNR” recipe for the average fast-food burger—appear to have a negative impact on heart health.
Crunch, crunch. It’s the texture as much as the taste. We love fried foods, but those French fries don’t love our hearts. A growing number of studies have linked fried foods to an increased risk of heart disease. Here’s why.
Conventional frying creates a certain type of fat known as trans fats. These fats have been shown to elevate our bad cholesterol level, while suppressing the good cholesterol. So, we lose out in both directions when we help ourselves to more fried chicken.
Does this mean abandoning fried foods altogether? Take a deep breath and continue with your stir-fry at home. You’re likely using either coconut oil (the latest rage) or olive oil. These are not the same oils that are used in bulk by fast-food franchises and casual food restaurant chains.
Sprinkling a spoonful of sugar on your morning cereal isn’t the largest source of sugar in your diet. It likely doesn’t come from the food you eat at all. Most of it comes from that can or bottle of soda you had at lunch. Or, maybe in lieu of coffee for breakfast.
Don’t be so quick to congratulate yourself if you opted for a container of fruit juice instead of a soda. Read the label and you just might find that the juice has been sweetened with either sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
While sugary drinks tend to make up our overload of the sweet stuff, most mass-produced cookies and pastries are just as unhealthy. They taste so great because they’re full of sugar, plus either partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (a trans-fat) or either butter or palm oil (saturated fats).
The cure is bad for you
Why do we love bacon? It’s an operatic ode to saturated fat. Yes, it’s true that you can find an interesting selection of low-fat cured meats and cold cuts. But how are they made in order to compete with the full-fat versions? Crank up the sodium content—and not just a smidgen.
The American Heart Association reports that 6 thin slices of deli meat—about the amount you’ll find on a fast-food chain sandwich, loads you up with half of the amount of sodium you should consume in a whole day.
The heart connection to sodium is simple. It’s important that you watch—and even restrict—your salt intake because of sodium’s link to high blood pressure. Having your doctor tell you that you have high blood pressure doesn’t mean a mandatory regimen of medication. You may—with your doctor’s help—be able to manage high blood pressure just by eating fewer high-sodium foods.
Alas, yes. But does this really surprise you? If you visited the American Heart Association link above, you know that pizza ranks #2 on its list of salty foods. This is especially true for the beloved “meat-lovers” type of pizza.
It’s a potent unhealthy combination of sodium and saturated fat. Bump up the bad numbers by adding more cheese and meat toppings. Feel free to refuse to give up pizza. It’s your right as an American. But, do practice restraint and limit yourself to just a couple of slices. Okay, maybe an extra slice—if you go for veggie toppings.
Good grief, now that we’ve rained all over the feel-good fast-food parade, isn’t there any ray of sunshine that can be shared as a parting gift? These heart-healthy eating warnings are brought to you by the letter “M.” It stands for moderation.
There’s no reason why you should forever keep the kiss of a crispy piece of chicken from your lips. Eat it often, though, and both your heart—and your hips—with pay a price.
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