One of two leading causes of death in American adults are heart attacks. Basically, there is some sort of blockage in the blood flow to the heart. The heart muscle cells start to die, and your heart is unable to work.
The blockage is generally caused by a buildup of fat and cholesterol (plaque) in the arteries. When the plaque breaks loose and impedes the flow of blood.
You develop plaque from smoking, being sedentary, obesity, poor diet, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
If your food is high in salt (sodium), saturated fats, and cholesterol, you are increasing your odds of developing heart disease and having a heart attack. We’ll list eleven foods that add to your risk of heart attack.
11. Sugary Drinks
When industry wants to add sugar to milk, you know Americans have a problem with sugar. Our drinks are sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners. A 12-ounce serving of soda includes 10 teaspoons of sugar! Drinking calories leaves you hungry and you tend to overeat.
Sugar causes many health problems including obesity and diabetes. To avoid a heart attack, drastically cut back on sugar in all forms. Artificial sweeteners are worse than real sugar – they’ll make you hungry and are linked to cancer.
10. Refined and Processed Food
Refining grain (turning it into white flour, rice, etc.) removes nutrients. Your body treats refined grains like it does sugar. Refined grains lead to obesity and diabetes.
Whole grains are shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol!
Processing foods generally includes adding salt and sugar to improve the taste. They also include shelf stable trans fats like partial hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils. These are bad fats that harm your heart.
Whole grains can improve blood vessel function. Eat whole grains!
9. Processed Meats
Processed meats contain saturated fats and salt by the bucketful. Your heart will not thank you for eating hot dogs, sausages, deli meat and bacon. Eating one serving a day of processed meats is associated with a 42% increased risk of developing chronic heart disease. These are inarguably the worst meats you can eat for heart health.
Eating unprocessed, lean meat is far healthier for you. Choose cuts lower in fat, remove the skin from chicken, and don’t smother in high fat toppings!
8. Canned Vegetables
Your body needs salt. The problem is salt is added to everything. It is a flavor enhancer. Too much salt affects blood vessels by making their walls thicker and less flexible. You retain water and that leads to higher blood pressure.
Canned vegetables are a huge culprit. Canning affects the taste and salt replaces some of it. If you use canned vegetables, lower salt versions and rinse before using. You also won’t need to add salt to them later.
7. Restaurant Appetizers
For some specific foods, avoid restaurant appetizers! If you choose anything but a broth-based soup or a house salad with vinaigrette, you are getting a full meal’s worth of calories, fat and sodium in your pre-dinner snack. Even some broth-based soups (French onion comes to mind) are super high in salt! Many are very highly processed and include white flour as breading.
One of the causes of heart attacks is obesity. If you are trying not to gain weight, skip the pre-dinner dinner.
6. Americanized Ethnic Food
Many ethnic foods start healthy but get Americanized. They are full of salt, saturated fats, and sugar. Chinese food is no exception. People think that it is healthy because of all the veggies, but American Chinese offerings like sweet-and-sour are breaded, salted, sugared, and highly processed.
The portions are also Americanized. What passes as Italian pasta in the US would feed a family in Italy where pasta is lightly topped with olive oil and a smidge of sauce.
How about America’s national cuisine?
5. Fast Food
America’s offering to world cuisine, fast food, is loaded with salt, sugar, preservatives, calories, and highly processed. To add insult to injury, it is fried in trans fats. It’s been linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. It’s been engineered to be addictive and marketed aggressively.
There is speculation that fast food is one of the drivers of heart attack deaths. Removing fast food from your diet could literally save your life.
4. Premade Meals
Eating pre-made meals from the grocery store isn’t much healthier than fast food. It is stabilized with trans fats, flavor enhanced with salt, preservatives and sugar, and is highly processed. If you choose lower calories and lower salt options, read the labels. They may make those claims by decreasing the portion size!
Also be aware that manufactures only have to list trans fats over 1 gram. In reality, any amount of trans fats are bad and have a cumulative effect.
3. Kid’s Meals
Kids are programmed by nature to love fat and sugar. Kid’s meal manufacturers oblige. Many kid’s meals come with more calories, salt, and saturated fat than adult meals. They are also filled with white flour – bread, breading, and pasta.
If you are trying to teach your kids good eating habits and keep them from a life of obesity, diabetes and heart attacks, cut out macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers and hot dogs. And of, course pizza.
Pizza is yet another heart attack special. Start with the white flour crust, add sugar laden sauce, preserved fatty salt… I mean meat… like pepperoni, and a ton of saturated fat cheese and you have yourself a future heart attack.
Eating one slice every once in a while is ok. But most people can’t do that because pizza hits all the happy places in our brain and you tend to eat more.
1. Ice Cream
Ice cream… yummy. And heart attack friendly. Because it is dairy and generally made with full fat milk, it is full of saturated fat. – the bad fat that is hard on your heart and cholesterol levels. It also contains a lot of sugar, both naturally occurring and added. Then add in the fruit, nuts, caramel bits and other goodies they add and you have a calorie bomb.
If you must have a dessert, eat fresh fruit or a bit of dark chocolate.
The American diet adds up to a heart attack. Eliminate bad fats like trans fats, cut down on saturated fats from meat, stop adding sugar and salt to everything, and eat less refined or processed foods. Perhaps the most important food you can stop eating is fast food.
Stop smoking and get a bit of exercise. Check your blood pressure. Lose weight. Heart attacks are not inevitable. A little effort can keep you from being a statistic!
You’ll find a healthy diet is every bit as satisfying and tasty. It just takes a bit of time to wean yourself off salt and sugar!