5 of the worst foods for your heart

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According to the American Heart Association (AHA), heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, causes more deaths in the United States each year than all types of cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease combined. And according to the same source, stroke is responsible for one out of every 19 deaths in the US.

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Factors such as not getting enough physical exercise, stress and underlying health conditions can contribute to heart disease. But according to the AHA, even a non-heart-healthy diet can increase your risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease.

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Worse, you may not even know how harmful your diet could be to your heart. Some of the worst foods for your heart may also be a regular part of your daily diet.

Read about some of the worst types of food and drink for your heart and alternatives for better heart health.

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fatty red meat
Woman looking at meat at grocery storeNaty.m / shutterstock.com

Stay away from that cheeseburger or juicy steak if you want to protect your heart health. Research indicates that people with diets high in red meat have triple the levels of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) of people who eat primarily white meat or non-meat protein sources, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). . TMAO is a chemical made by gut bacteria that worsens cholesterol deposits in artery wall and is linked to heart disease.

The good news is that high TMAO levels were reversible among participants in a study conducted by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic. When study participants discontinued their red meat diet, replacing it with a white meat or non-meat diet, for one month, their TMAO levels decreased.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting red meat and choosing fish and poultry instead. Just make sure you trim away the fatty areas and skin from those meats before cooking for better heart health.

soda and other sweetened drinks
A row of bottles containing different colored liquids.Steve Kukrov / shutterstock.com

The next time you reach for a soda, energy drink, sports drink, sweetened sparkling water or juice loaded with high fructose corn syrup, refresh yourself with a glass of water or another beverage that doesn’t have a high sugar content. ,

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, consuming high-sugar drinks is often linked to high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which contribute to heart disease. But it’s not just your heart that high-sugar beverages can harm.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), research links frequent consumption of high-sugar beverages to weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, tooth decay and gout, which is a type of arthritis.

The CDC recommends switching to plain water, 100% fruit juice, or water sweetened with a splash of 100% fruit juice instead of a sweetened beverage.

high fat dairy products
butter on a plateSea Wave / shutterstock.com

According to the U.S. Department of Health’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, frequent consumption of high-fat dairy products — such as whole-fat milk, butter or stick margarine, cream and cream cheese — may increase your risk for heart disease. Huh. and Human Services (HHS).

However, you don’t have to live a completely dairy-free life for heart health. The HHS recommends choosing low-fat dairy alternatives instead. For example, instead of whole milk, use fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk or soy milk fortified with calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D.

Instead of cooking with butter, switch to vegetable oils such as canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean or sunflower to keep your heart healthy. Just make sure you avoid coconut and palm oil, which are high fat oils.

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According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, most Americans (about 90%) eat too much sodium, which increases the risk of stroke, high blood pressure and heart attack.

And the scary part is that it’s easy to unintentionally overload on sodium. Even if you are careful about how much salt you add to your food or the food you are cooking, salt is present in most processed foods, even in bread, sauces, condiments, And salad dressing may not even be suspect.

The good news is that it’s easy to avoid overloading on sodium by checking the Nutrition Facts label on foods before purchasing and choosing foods that are labeled “low-sodium” or “no salt added.”

To help protect heart health, choose foods that contain 5% of the Daily Value (DV) or less of sodium. And definitely stay away from foods with more than 20% DV, which is high.

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According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), drinking alcoholic beverages regularly can raise your blood pressure, increase fats in your blood that can worsen high cholesterol, or increase your risk of heart failure. .

The NHLBI recommends limiting your alcohol intake or cutting out alcohol altogether. If you drink alcohol, the American Heart Association recommends limiting your alcohol consumption to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.

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