February is Heart Month. There’s no better time to make a decision to keep your heart and cardiovascular system healthy for years to come than right now! Here are 10 foods that you should save for occasional treats or find healthy swaps whenever possible:
Fried snacks, fried chicken, French fries, etc. increase your risk of heart disease. Conventional frying methods create trans fats. Frans tats are a type of fat that raises bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol.
If you crave fried foods, look for alternative recipes. Examples include recipes that bake, air fry or use healthier oils. Many of these recipes also use mock “vegetable” versions or alternate batters.
Cured and processed meats
Meats such as sausage and bacon are often high in saturated fat. Even low-fat options, however, tend to be very high in sodium. A few thin slices of deli meat may have half your daily recommended amount of salt!
High sodium intake is linked to high blood pressure, and avoiding extra salt can greatly improve it.
Saturated fats may contribute to heart disease, their relationship isn’t entirely clear. In general, however, saturated fats from animals, especially in combination with carbohydrates, appear to have a negative effect on heart health. Fast- food restaurants tend to use lower quality ingredients as well as unhealthy cooking methods. Avoiding them is a good way to be kind to your heart.
Diets high in added sugar may help contribute to inflammation, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.
Juices and soft drinks
Check your beverage labels carefully. Many soft drinks and juices contain a ridiculous amount of sugar!
You would think the fat-free and zero-calorie version of your favorite soft drink may be a good solution. It may be fat-free and zero-calorie, however, some research suggests that the chemicals in diet soda may alter gastrointestinal bacteria. Altered gut bacteria makes people more prone to weight gain.
Pastries and cookies
Baked goods, especially commercially produced ones, are full of sugar. They also likely contain saturated fats or trans fats.
Sugar filled cereals
Like drinks, breakfast cereals often contain sugar. The consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugars in the morning produces inflammation. This in return makes blood sugar go up and down, increasing sugar cravings throughout the day.
Pizza is a food that often contains too much sodium (salt) according to the American Heart Association. The more meat and cheese you add, the worse it gets. When eating pizza, limit yourself to one or two slices and opt for veggie-filled varieties.
Trans fats are common in sticks of margarine which are often marketed as a healthier alternative to butter. To be on the safe side, select a soft, spreadable margarine that contains no partially hydrogenated oils. Olive oil is also a better alternative.
Our CCMH providers commit to helping you live a healthier lifestyle! Find a list of them by visiting CCMHHealth.com/Providers.
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