When you think of heart health, you probably think about your cholesterol levels and what you should and shouldn’t be eating. But there are other factors that can impact your cardiac health and these aren’t always as obvious. For example:
Red and processed meat
- Red and processed meat are high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
- Processed meats contain carcinogens that cause cancer.
- Red meat is the main source of iron in a typical American diet.
- Sugar-sweetened beverages are the biggest source of added sugars in the diet.
- Sugary drinks can increase your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. This is because sugar-sweetened beverages have been linked to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease by raising blood pressure and triglyceride levels, causing inflammation in the body (which can lead to plaque buildup), and increasing uric acid levels—all things that increase your chances of developing heart disease or having a stroke.
- Sugary drinks can also lead to tooth decay. Teeth are made up largely of minerals like calcium and phosphate, which give them their hardness; when you ingest soda or other sugary drinks with sugar (or even if you just drink too much water with sugar), bacteria from your mouth digest the sugar molecules by producing acids that break down tooth enamel over time.
Unprocessed red meat
Unprocessed red meat includes all cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal. This includes fresh or frozen:
- Beef (hamburger, roast beef)
- Pork (bacon, chops)
- Lamb (chops)
- Veal (cutlets).
Refined cereals like white bread, white rice, and baked goods made with refined flour.
Refined cereals like white bread, white rice and baked goods made with refined flour are generally bad for your health. These foods lack nutrients and fiber and have been stripped of their natural goodness through processing. In addition to being a source of empty calories, this kind of food is also high in sodium which can raise blood pressure if consumed in large quantities.
French fries and other high starch potatoes
By now, you’ve learned that a lot of the foods on this list are high in saturated fats and sodium. French fries are no exception. They’re also full of calories, which can cause weight gain if you eat too many of them. But what’s most important to know about these starchy potatoes is that they’re bad for your heart—and blood pressure, cholesterol levels and even overall health.
Butter, lard, and ghee
If you’ve got a bad heart, or are at risk for developing one, there are several foods your cardiologist does not want you eating. And butter and lard are among them.
Lard is the rendered fat of pork that’s been pressed into blocks. Ghee is a type of clarified butter that comes from India, but it’s also used in many other South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines; it has a nutty flavor and a high smoke point (which means it can withstand high cooking temperatures). Butter usually comes from cows and sometimes goats—it’s made by churning cream until it separates into butterfat globules and buttermilk. Both ghee and lard contain no cholesterol because they’re pure fat; however, both come with their fair share of saturated fats—and those aren’t exactly good for your heart health either!
Saturated fats have been shown to increase the risk for strokes, coronary artery disease (CAD), diabetes mellitus type 2 (T2D), breast cancer (BC) or colorectal cancer (CRC).
Scrambled eggs with cheese, creamy frittatas, fried eggs (particularly sunny-side up), cheese omelets, or a breakfast sandwich with egg, bacon and cheese.
Eggs are a good source of protein and B12, so it’s important to eat them if you’re vegetarian or vegan. But if you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, the American Heart Association advises eating no more than four eggs per week (or about one egg per day). Eggs also contain high levels of cholesterol—a major risk factor for heart disease.
The AHA recommends keeping your cholesterol intake under 300 mg/day. If you want to get your daily dose from eggs, make sure they’re freshly cracked into a bowl rather than fried (which adds extra fat) or boiled in the shell (which removes much of their vitamin content).
Watch your saturated fats intake.
The most common sources of saturated fat are animal products like beef and butter. But you’ll also find it in other foods, such as cheese, milk, milk products and desserts with high-fat cream or chocolate.
Saturated fats raise your LDL cholesterol levels—the bad kind that can clog arteries and lead to heart disease—and lower HDL cholesterol levels—the good kind that cleans up plaque buildup in the body. They also raise triglyceride levels, a type of blood fat linked to an increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
Saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature (think peanut butter). Knowing what kind of fat you’re eating will help you keep track of how much saturated fat is going into your diet each day: Monounsaturated fats have one double bond between carbon atoms, while polyunsaturated fats have two or more double bonds between carbon atoms; both types are liquid at room temperature (think olive oil).
In conclusion, there are a few types of foods that your cardiologist does not want you to eat. These include red meat, processed meat, sugar-sweetened beverages, and refined cereals like white bread, white rice and baked goods made with refined flour. The good news is that there are so many delicious alternatives out there! You can still enjoy your favorite meals while making smart substitutions that will keep you healthy and happy.