Eating heart-healthy foods is an important step in taking care of your heart. But what foods should you be eating to keep your heart healthy, and what foods should you try to avoid or eat sparingly?
The following popular foods and meals are some that do not promote heart health. This list may surprise you, especially if you originally thought these foods to be healthy.
1. The deli-counter buffet
Meat goes well on everything from sandwiches to pizza. Unfortunately, not all meats are the same. Some are processed more than others and contain unhealthy preservatives. It is these processed meats that people should worry about doing harm to their hearts.
"Processed meats are those preserved using salts, nitrites or other preservatives," explains an article on Harvard Health Publishing. "Long-term observational studies have found that the worst types of meats for the heart are those that are processed."
If you find that processed hot dogs, bacon, salami, sausages and other processed meats are making regular appearances in your diet, you may want to re-evaluate the types of meats you are eating and how often you are eating them.
2. The quick breakfast
Have you ever been running late one morning and grabbed a low-fat yogurt to scarf down for breakfast? Or maybe this is your favorite mid-morning snack? Sadly, though this meal may be easy in the preparation department, this food is definitely not easy on your heart.
It all comes down to refined carbohydrates that tend to contain sugar and additives, according to prevention.com. "Condiments like ketchup and salad dressing — as well as pasta sauces, bread and low-fat yogurt — are more common sources of sugar and refined carbs, experts say."
"Processed foods also happen to be generally high in added sugars, the consumption of which might be more strongly and directly associated with hypertension and cardiometabolic risk," says a research article in BMJ Journals.
3. An aid for toasting, baking and cooking
Did you know that margarine isn't healthy for your heart?
While many people think that this plant oil-based food is the healthy alternative to butter, it just isn't the case.
"That’s because trans fat is created when the plant oil is processed and made into a solid. Trans fats are associated with a 34 percent increase in death, a 28 percent risk in death from coronary heart disease and a 21 percent increase in risk of cardiovascular disease," says the American Council on Exercise.
Next time you think about spreading margarine on your toast or potato, consider the effects it may have on your heart.
4. The whole wheat pretender
While many consider whole wheat to be "heart healthy," be careful what wheat products you choose to eat.
"Most 'whole-wheat' products aren't really made from whole wheat. The grains have been pulverized into very fine flour, making them raise blood sugar just as fast as their refined counterparts," says healthline.com.
This is a good example of why it is important to know the ingredients in the products you eat. Is that whole wheat bread you like really whole wheat? Or maybe the whole-wheat cereal and muffin you eat for breakfast aren't really made from a heart-healthy substance at all.
Knowing what is in the foods you eat can help you prepare and find foods that support heart health.
Taking your diet seriously can help keep your heart fit and prevent cardiovascular disease.
"About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Start taking care of your heart's fitness today, beginning with eating healthy foods.