The 20 Unhealthiest Foods for the Heart from The 20 Unhealthiest Foods for the Heart

The 20 Unhealthiest Foods for the Heart

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The 20 Unhealthiest Foods for the Heart

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The 20 Unhealthiest Foods for the Heart

About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the U.S. every year – that’s 1 in every 4 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Heart disease, the leading cause of death for both men and women, is the result of a long equation of very different factors, which can cause or limit heart trouble. Nobody can follow a super restrictive diet because then the brain will want to break it. This is just how it’s chemically wired. But you can limit your intake of certain foods that are wrecking your heart.

Too much red meat

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Too much red meat

A steady diet of meat is not as good as one that includes vegetables and moderate consumption of carbohydrates, Dr. Alfred Casale, associate chief medical officer of Geisinger Health System and chair of the Geisinger Heart Institute, says. Eating red meat is wrong only when you do it every day, and focusing on minimally-processed sugar-free and low-salt foods is always a good idea.

Sugary cereals

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Sugary cereals

Refined sugar is toxic to the body, especially if consumed in large amounts. It causes insulin spikes, which lead to weight gain. Your bad cholesterol levels also go up. The body does not like to have a lot of sugar but the muscles, which use it for energy, don’t have enough room for it. The extra gets stored in your fat cells, which is like the body’s dumping ground.

Chips

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Chips

“These are foods that are loaded with calories, often fried and have little or no nutritional value,” Dr. Kevin Campbell, world-renowned cardiologist, says. Potato chips also fall in the category of foods that are aging you because they are often made with olestra, a fat substitute that adds no fat, calories or cholesterol. But it sticks to vitamins A, E, D and K and carotenoids, which are antioxidant nutrients, and flushes them out of the body, according to a study.

Candy

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Candy

Consuming lots of sugar lowers your "good" cholesterol and spikes your triglycerides, the fat associated with heart disease and stroke, according to research. In fact, some studies suggest that consuming too much refined sugar, not fat, is the leading cause of heart disease, America's No. 1 killer, due to the negative effects it has on the metabolism. Too much sugar also leads to hypertension. Researchers observed more than 4,500 people without a history of hypertension, consuming 74 or more grams of sugar a day. They found strong connection with increased blood pressure. Other research has found that drinking 60 grams of fructose caused a spike in blood pressure two hours later and can lead to nerve damage.

Cold cuts

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Cold cuts

These processed meats are very high in sodium and fat, too, Dr. David Fischman, co-director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Thomas Jefferson University, says. “Turkey is less fatty but it has a lot of salt.” Consuming too much of it can lead to hypertension and damaged blood vessels, among other serious health problems. These processed foods can convert to nitrite, causing the formation of nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic chemicals, according to the CDC

Fried foods

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Fried foods

“There is no reason to ever eat anything fried,” Dr. Clyde W. Yancy, Chief of Cardiology in the Department of Medicine at Northwestern University, says. “It has absolutely no cardiovascular benefits.” The second you start to fry foods, the oil becomes carcinogenic. When oil and fat are exposed to very high temperatures, free radicals are formed. The trans fats in these foods cause inflammation in the body. They raise your bad cholesterol and clog and stiffen the arteries. Bad fats disrupt the thyroid's ability to produce enough hormone.

Bacon and sausage

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Bacon and sausage

There is too much fat in bacon, Dr. Fischman says. Nitrates help these foods keep their color for longer but they are not doing your body any favors. They can convert to nitrite, causing the formation of nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic chemicals, according to the CDC

White rice

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White rice

If you’re going to eat rice, do yourself a favor and swap white with brown. It has more protein and fiber. White rice has none of that and will raise your blood sugar quickly. White rice, which has 45 carbs and 200 calories per cup, in general is refined starch with no nutritional benefits.

Hot dogs

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Hot dogs

“They should not be staple food for anyone,” Dr. Fischman says. They are too processed and have too much salt. Men who eat processed red meats may boost their risk of heart failure by almost 30 percent, say Swedish researchers reporting in the journal Circulation, according to Harvard Medical School.

Cheese

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Cheese

Too much cheese it not good for you because it is very high in calories, Dr. Fischman says. “It’s OK to have pizza once in a while but not every night for dinner.”  Cheese has about 100 calories per ounce, on average, and a lot of fat –  6 to 9 grams per ounce, most of which is saturated, according to the University of California at Berkley.

Canned foods

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Canned foods

“Anything that is in a can is very high in sodium because this is what they use to preserve the food,” Dr. Fischman says. “It’s always better to have fresh food. “I don’t care if you eat organic or non-organic fruits and vegetables,” he adds, “just eat more of them.”  

Microwave dinners

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Microwave dinners

These fit into the “anything in a box” category, Dr. Fischman says. In general, “they are preserved with too much sodium and are very high in calorie content.”

Ice cream

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Ice cream

“Every time I see an overweight patient, my first question is ‘If I open your fridge, will I find ice cream?’ The answer usually is ‘yes,’” Dr. Fischman says. “Get rid of it.” It is very high in calories and fat, and it contributes to high cholesterol levels.

Margarine

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Margarine

There never was any good evidence that using margarine instead of butter cut the chances of having a heart attack or developing heart disease, Harvard Medical School says. Margarine is just chemical. There is nothing in it that is good for the body. A study showed that higher consumption of margarine was linked to increased skin wrinkling. Healthier alternatives to butter or margarine include olive oil and other vegetable oil–based spreads.

Energy drinks

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Energy drinks

“Absolutely not,” Dr. Fischman says. “Especially not mixed with alcohol.” Both are high in wasted calories and sugar. Energy drinks have too much caffeine, one of the most dangerous legal drugs, which leads to high blood pressure and racing heart, he adds.

Soda

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Soda

“These are empty calorie foods,” Dr. Campbell says. “They have no nutritional value and are very calorie dense. They contribute to obesity,” he adds. Diet soda is in some ways even worse than the regular version. They are slowly killing you in several ways.

Pasta sauces

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Pasta sauces

The added sugar is the white processed kind which is the real problem. One cup contains about 10 grams of sugar or more – that’s more than 2 teaspoons of the sweet stuff. The new labels, which become mandatory in 2018, require companies to list “added sugar” separately.

Ketchup

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Ketchup

Ketchup has a ton of sugar and additives. A lot of people go to a family BBQ and eat chicken and think they are OK – not when you dipped it in sauce. Make your own sauce with tomato puree, mustard, lemon juice, hot sauce (if using), ginger, and water. This is a healthy recipe, according to Diabetic Lifestyle.

Powdered coffee creams

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Powdered coffee creams

The problem with the powdered coffee creams are the trans fats they contain. This is also the case with everything that has “hydrogenated oils” on it.

Certain baked cookies

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Certain baked cookies

This is mostly about the commercial kind. “They are high in calories, fat and sugar,” Dr. Fischman says. Make them at home because then you’re more likely to use less sugar and butter instead of hydrogenated oil, he adds. This is a kind of trans fat that is really bad for you. Companies don’t have to list trans fats on the ingredient label unless there are more than 0.5g.

The 20 Unhealthiest Foods for the Heart