You’ve probably heard of “Heart Healthy” foods, but you may not be exactly sure which food items are considered heart healthy and which ones are not. The American Heart Association implements a Heart-Check Food Certification Program which places a “Heart Check” symbol on many foods in grocery stores to help shoppers make smarter choices about the foods they purchase and eat. But it’s not possible for the American Heart Association to label all food items that are sold in stores. Also, it’s not possible to label all foods that are unhealthy for your heart with a warning label. Therefore, it’s important to memorize the specific foods and/or ingredients that are considered unhealthy for your heart – and then do your best to avoid them at all costs.
Food that is Fried: Sure, they might taste yummy, but fried foods usually contain large amounts of saturated fat, and this type of fat is very unhealthy for your heart. Not only does saturated fat raise cholesterol levels, but also it contributes to heart disease. Fried foods are often found in the prepared foods section at grocery stores, and they are commonly found on menus at restaurants. You should be diligent in avoiding food that is fried.
Salty Foods: Most Americans consume a high level of salt on a daily basis. Pre-packaged foods purchased at grocery stores and most foods from restaurants contain more sodium than your body needs. Foods that are high in salt may taste good while you are eating them, but the excess salt can cause high blood pressure and raise the risk of cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease. In other words, it’s important to stay away from foods that are high in salt.
Red Meat. You know what they say, “Everything is fine in moderation.” This adage can sometimes be true for red meat. Red meat is high in saturated fat and cholesterol. If you eat red meat frequently, your chances of developing heart disease go up significantly. It’s smart to seriously limit your intake of red meat, substituting fish whenever possible.
Trans Fat. This type of fat is especially dangerous. It’s commonly found in foods that are considered “junk” – which are not good for you in any way. Take time to look at the labels on the food you are about to consume. If you see the words “Trans Fat” anywhere in the nutritional label on an item, put it down and replace it with something else that does not contain Trans Fat!
Sweet Foods: If you drink soda or juice on a regular basis, it might be time to stop! Sugar comes in many forms, such as corn syrup and cane sugar. But no matter the type, a diet high in sugar can lead to heart disease and an increased risk for heart attacks in both men and women. Other sugary items to avoid include sweet desserts and syrups.
For extensive advice on heart healthy diets visit the American Heart Association’s online Nutrition Center, where you will find Heart Healthy recipes, healthy cooking tips, secrets to heart-smart shopping, and much more!