Did you know heart diseases are the leading cause of death in the world? You can reduce the risk of developing heart diseases by avoiding these worst foods for heart.

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) or heart diseases are the leading cause of death in the world, reports the World Health Organization (WHO). CVDs are a group of diseases that affect your heart and blood vessels. Did you know that 4 out of 5 CVD deaths occur due to heart attacks and strokes around the world? While many factors can trigger heart problems, diet seems to play a significant role in your heart. Not eating the right foods can put your heart health in jeopardy. Know the worst foods for your heart that you should avoid to prevent the risk.

What is the role of diet in managing heart health?

It is well-established that a healthy diet is directly proportionate to your health. Eating a healthy diet promotes longevity, and reduces the risk of diabetes, arterial hypertension, stroke, and obesity, which can help reduce the risk of CVD, found a 2023 study published in the journal Nutrients.

Diet plays a crucial role in maintaining your cardiovascular health and a poor diet can increase your risk of high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes, says Cardiologist Dr Bimal Chajjar. A heart-healthy diet should be an amalgamation of nutrient-rich foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. You should limit sodium, added sugars, trans fat, and processed carbs. Reducing salt intake is crucial as excessive sodium raises blood pressure, which is a major heart disease and stroke risk. It is also important to cut refined carbs and added sugars from your diet as it can help reduce diabetes risk and promote overall heart health.

Also Read: Make a note of these ultimate diet tips to manage heart diseases

5 worst foods for heart

1. Processed foods

Consuming processed foods that are rich in salt and sugar can be harmful to our cardiovascular health, says Dr Chijjar. Processed meats are the worst foods for your heart. Hot dogs, sausage, salami, and lunch meat are the worst types of processed meat for your heart. A 2021 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found an association between higher intake of processed food and major CVD.

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5 worst foods for heart you should avoid!
Raw red meant
Avoid processed foods if you want to keep your heart healthy. Image courtesy: Freepik

2. Fatty foods

Two types of fats known as saturated and trans fat are believed to be potentially harmful for your heart health. Saturated fats are generally found in beef, pork, lab, chicken meat, poultry skin, high fat dairy food and tropical oils. Trans fat are generally present in fried foods, margarine, baked good and processed snacks such as crackers and microwave popcorn.

3. Fried food

Eating fried food can increases your blood pressure levels, low HDL “good” cholesterol and obesity, all of which can increase heart disease risk. A study published in the British Medical Journal found that fried food intake can increase the risk of major heart disease and stroke. Another study published in the Public Health Nutrition, which studied more than 16 thousand participants between 2003-2007, found that two or more servings of fried fish a week can increase the risk of CVDs.

4. Sugary food

Eating sugary foods regularly can put at risk for a heart disease over time. A study published in the journal BMC Medicine found that eating too much sugar can be bad for your heart. So, you should avoid sugary foods and drinks such as cookies, cakes, candy and soda that might contribute to obesity and harm your heart health.

5. Refined carbs

Refined carbs or carbohydrates are the foods that have gone through a manufacturing process that removes most of its nutritional value. It may deprive a food of fibre, vitamins, minerals and polyphenols. Nutritionist Dr Neeti Sharma says, “Refined carbs, that are there in white bread etc, have absolutely no of fibre and other nutrients, which again leads to weight gain and an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.”

Best foods for a healthy heart

Here are some healthy diet options if you want to keep heart diseases at bay, as explained by the experts:

1. Eat a variety of grains, fruits, veggies, nuts, chicken, fish and plant based oils.
2. Steer clear of trans fat, and include healthier fats found in foods like avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil.
3. Opt for protein sources such as fish, chicken, beans, lentils, while avoiding processed meats high in fat.
4. Berries such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries provide nutrients that are beneficial for your heart.
5. Prioritise fiber intake and cholesterol reduction by including grains like quinoa, brown rice, oats and whole wheat bread in your diet.
6. Include plenty of fruits and vegetables with colors and varieties to provide nutrients, antioxidants and fiber that support heart health.
7. Avoid alcohol intake, limit red meat and processed meat consumption and cut down on refined foods and drinks, with added sugar and salt.

Also Read: 5 foods that can prevent the risk of heart attacks

Person holding anatomic heart model
Keep your heart healthy by following a healthy lifestyle. Image courtesy: Freepik

Lifestyle tips to keep your heart health in check

  • Make sure to get regular check ups and screenings for early detection.
  • Keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and triglyceride levels in check.
  • Eat a balanced diet that includes heart-healthy foods.
  • Get at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week to avoid complications.
  • Aim for at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep each ight as insufficient sleep can increase the risk of heart disease.
  • Limit alcohol consumption and refrain from smoking to improve heart health.
  • If you are overweight or obese, lose weight and manage it to avoid heart problems.
  • Avoid overeating by practising portion control to avoid any sort of risk.

Incorporating these recommendations, with exercise and other healthy lifestyle habits can promote heart health and decrease the likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases.

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