BY KAREN REED
Heart disease is a major problem in the western world. It’s one of the major killers and usually something people can prevent. You need to choose a healthy diet and avoid foods that commonly increase the risk of developing heart disease at some point in life.
While there are many theories over certain foods causing heart disease, there are only some that have been scientifically proven. In fact, some of the theories haven’t been proven at all yet, with some studies showing no effect at all.
So, it’s time to get educated. It’s time to learn what you really need to either avoid or cut down on to help promote good heart health.
HEART DISEASE IS ABOUT THE CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
Over the years, there has been the view that heart disease is hereditary. People believed that it was just part of getting older and there was nothing that could be done about it. Well, science has proven different.
While there is still a genetic element to it, it’s really all about what we eat. Yes, there are lifestyle elements that will make it worse and increase our risk, but it’s mostly about the food that we eat—more importantly, about the amount of cholesterol that we get in our body.
There are two types of cholesterol: HDL and LDL. The LDL is the type that we need to cut down on. This is the type that blocks the arteries, causes clogs, and raises the blood pressure. By getting more HDL cholesterol, you can actually help to keep the LDL levels low. HDL helps to line the arteries with a smooth, protective layer. It will make sure the blood passes through the arteries easily, keeping the blood pressure down.
Plant foods do nothing for your cholesterol levels. They contain nothing at all. Only oily foods and animal products include some cholesterol. Some will include more HDL than LDL, and only some have been linked to heart disease. This is something to keep in mind as we go through the seven foods that have been linked to heart disease.
CUT OUT FAST OR FRIED FOOD AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
There are healthier ways to cook your food. If you’re one of those who has deep fried, battered fish or the Scottish delicacy of the battered Mars bar, then you want to rethink what you’re eating.
Remember that oils have been linked in some way to high cholesterol levels and heart disease. The truth is that you need some oils, but you need to get the right ones in the right ways. This doesn’t mean you can use healthy lifestyle as an excuse to get your fried or fast food.
Fried and fast food have been cooked in unhealthy, saturated vegetable oils. They’re also cooked in far more than you need, holding onto the fats that you then put into your diet. While they’re not necessarily making you obese, they are leading to clogged arteries and putting you at the risk of a coronary.
Cut out as much fast or fried food as possible. As I’ve said, there are healthier ways to cook your food. Instead of frying your bacon or sausages, you can grill them. Switch the fried eggs for poaches and scramble them in just a teaspoon of olive oil.
Get rid of the deep fat fryer and bake or grill your food instead. You will find that it tastes better and you get to put your health first.
GET RID OF THE FULL-FAT DAIRY PRODUCTS
While dairy is good for you, you want to get the right type of diary. Scientists have found that full-fat dairy products have been linked to higher cholesterol levels, which can lead to heart disease.
The problem with the full-fat options is that they have more cholesterol levels. Remember that it’s your animal products that have both the HDL and LDL cholesterol. When you opt for the low fat or reduced fat, you get rid of some of the cholesterol.
Of course, you need to watch out for other health problems. When something says it is low fat, it may have extra sugars. Read the labels and make sure you’re not replacing the cholesterol for sugars that can lead to Type II diabetes and other health problems!
KEEP CANNED VEGETABLES TO A MINIMUM
Canned vegetables are commonly bought in stores. They are easy to get your nutrients and can be stocked up in bulk to keep the cost of your grocery shopping to a minimum.
However, they can be bad for your heart. Now manufacturers are starting to look into the problems with their canned vegetables, but not everyone really cares.
But wait, vegetables don’t have cholesterol, do they? Well, it’s not just the cholesterol that is causing the heart disease. It’s a major contributing factor, but there are other reasons for heart disease. High sodium levels are also something to watch out for, and canned vegetables tend to contain large amounts of salt.
Look out for cans that state they are low salt or have no added salt. Make sure you rinse them thoroughly to get rid of any salts that are there naturally.
Frozen and fresh vegetables tend to be better for you. Freezing vegetables don’t get rid of the nutrients as much as some people believe, and they make it possible to stock up in the way that you would have with canned vegetables.
SWITCH OUT THE COLD CUTS
Cold cut meats are a major problem for the diet. The problem is they are so readily available and affordable. They are also easy to use, compared to some of the healthier, lean cuts of the meal.
Well, it’s time to choose your health over the ease of cutting the meat. Cold cuts are full of extra salt, and they don’t exactly offer the nutrients that your lean cuts will provide. It’s possible to get 250mg of sodium in just one slice of cold cut meat. Just how many do you actually put into your sandwiches or on top of your salads?
There are plenty of other wonderful lunches to create. You can make healthier salads, sandwiches, and dishes.
This doesn’t mean you must cut out the cold cuts completely. However, you definitely want to cut down to keep your heart disease risk to a minimum.
The same applies to your beef jerky, by the way. It’s grown ever more popular with the paleo trend. It doesn’t have any grains, and it is technically something that the cavemen would have eaten. However, it contains far more salt than our paleo ancestors would have ever considered putting past their lips. There are very few nutrients from it, and it’s not exactly the best for your waistline or your heart. Put it to one side and reach for healthier snacks.
SWITCH OUT YOUR COTTAGE CHEESE
Yes, cottage cheese works for salads, potatoes, breakfasts, and much more. You won’t really taste the sodium that in it or even thinks about the cholesterol levels (animal product, remember). The chances are that you don’t think this healthier version of cheese could cause heart disease.
Well, it turns out that it can. Cottage cheese has more than a third of your recommended daily allowance of salt in just one serving! Sure, there are low-salt versions on the market, but they still don’t take your sodium intake down enough to rule out heart disease completely.
Instead of cottage cheese, add some yogurt to your diet. Greek yogurt is the best because it will reduce the amount of sugar that you get from the dairy product. Greek yogurt also has the protein intake that your body needs to support the heart muscle.
GET RID OF THE MARGERINE
Margarine was introduced as a butter alternative. While it is certainly easier to spread, it’s nowhere near as good for your heart. There is far more LDL cholesterol in margarine than there is in butter. And you know that it doesn’t even taste as nice as some freshly spread butter!
Margarine contains a lot of hydrogenated oils. In fact, it’s one of the most commonly consumed sources of trans fats, which just build up in the arteries and block them. You’ll end up with higher blood pressure levels and will be at a high risk of having a heart attack.
To make it worse, the margarine is making your skin age quicker! If you’re not going to put your heart first, then make a switch from margarine for the sake of your skin!
There is some margarine created without the trans fat, which is something to consider. You’ll get some of your healthy oils through them. Another option is just to switch back to butter or cut it all out completely.
KEEP YOUR ALCOHOL LEVELS TO A MINIMUM
There is some contradicting advice when it comes to alcohol at the moment. There are some who say that alcohol is bad for you and should be completely avoided. Others will tell you that the odd glass of wine isn’t going to do you that much harm and could even help your cholesterol levels.
Sure enough, studies have shown that a glass of wine can help to boost your HDL cholesterol, and this is the type that you want to boost. Red wine is the best, but studies have shown that a glass of white wine and even a glass of beer can help to improve your healthy lifestyle.
The danger is when you drink more than a unit or two a day. As you drink more alcohol, your blood pressure increases. You put your liver under more strain to get rid of the toxins in your body, and you run the rise of increase heart rates for no good reasons.
High levels of alcohol also increase the amount of triglycerides in the body, which are a type of fat. These will be in your arteries, causing blockages and putting you at a higher risk of developing heart disease.
So, yes, alcohol can be beneficial. What you want to do is focus on a low amount to protect your heart instead of causing more damage to your overall health.
IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE DIET
Something that’s worth bearing in mind is that it isn’t all about the diet. While these foods have been scientifically proven to cause heart disease, there are other factors involved. You may avoid all the foods but still be a high risk due to other lifestyle choices and decisions.
Smokers and people who are obese are more at risk of suffering from heart disease at some point in their life. Remember that your heart is a muscle. The best way to protect your heart is by building it and constantly keeping it working. You can do this with a healthy exercise program.
It is worth making a note that exercise isn’t going to work on its own. It needs to work with a healthy diet. Studies have shown that exercise on its own just isn’t enough to protect your heart—and this was conducted on soldiers!
Your age isn’t going to stop you from suffering from heart disease. When it comes to this problem, it really is a case of you are what you eat. The good news is that a change to your diet as you get older can help to reduce the risks of heart disease becoming a major problem.
WHAT WILL YOU CUT OUT FIRST?
Some of the foods on the list you can have in moderation. It’s all about fitting them into a healthy and balanced diet. However, you will also need to focus on a healthier lifestyle.
With other foods, you need to completely cut them out if you want to reduce the risk of heart disease. The sodium and bad cholesterol levels are too high to get any benefits from them. This is certainly the case with hydrogenated oil margarine and beef jerky.
What will you cut out first? Start making a healthier change to your diet today.
This is a post by Karen Reed from www.positivehealthwellness.com which I’m posting here with permission. I thought it would be of interest to readers. The jury is still out on some of the causes of heart disease including the place of healthy fats, cholesterol etc. The recommendations here are positive and practical. Please head over to their website where you will find other articles around health and wellness.