Heart Health Tips for Beginners – Part 4 – What NOT to Eat
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If you’re following along in my Heart Health for Beginners series, you know that eating a healthier diet can be beneficial to your heart in so many ways. In Part 3 of this series, I gave you my top 15 foods that should be part of a heart-healthy diet, so you know which good foods to choose. But it’s also important to know what to limit or stay away from in your diet that can harm your heart.
Heart-Healthy Diet – What NOT to Eat
Below I’m going to give you three types of foods that you might want to consider cutting back on or limiting. As part of a heart-healthy diet, you should aim to only have them as an occasional treat or once in a while.
Studies have shown that processed meats are the worst type of meat for your heart’s health because they are preserved with high amounts of additives like salts, nitrites, phosphates, or other preservatives.
Don’t get mad at me, because I’m just the messenger, but this includes meats like bacon, hot dogs, sausages, and deli meats like salami, turkey, ham, bologna, and chicken.
Recommended Servings: No more than 2 servings per week.
Serving size: 2–3 oz.
Highly Refined and Processed Grains and Carbohydrates
When they’re refined or processed, grains and carbohydrates lose many of their healthy nutrients that are found in whole grains, including minerals, fiber, phytochemicals, and fatty acids. During processing, additional ingredients, like trans fats, sugars, and sodium are usually added, leaving the product less nutritious than it was in its natural state.
This includes foods like white bread, white rice, many low-fiber or sugary cereals, baked goods and pastries. I’m not saying you can never have rice or a muffin again, but eat it in moderation instead of it being a staple in your diet.
Instead, opt for whole grains which can lower cholesterol, blood pressure, the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and possibly stroke! Plus whole grains help keep us fuller longer and don’t cause the spikes in blood sugar (and then the subsequent sugar crashes) that refined and processed carbs can!
Recommended Servings: Less than 7 servings per week.
Serving size: 1 oz.
Sugary drinks can have the same ill effects on your heart as processed and refined carbs, and can also cause weight gain.
We tend to drink a lot of our calories in addition to eating them. And it’s mostly from drinks like sodas, sports drinks, and sweetened fruit juices. Our bodies process liquid calories differently than solid food calories. So we aren’t substituting food calories with liquid calories, we’re having them in addition to! So that’s why adding a sweetened drink to each meal can cause you to gain weight.
And in terms of sugar content per drink – Think about this: one can of regular pop contains 10 teaspoons of table sugar! The AHA recommends limiting the amount of added sugar per day for Men to 9 teaspoons and for Women 6 teaspoons. So if you have one 12 oz can of pop, you are already over your daily limit!
Recommended Servings: Less than 7 servings per week
Serving size: 8 oz.
So that’s a general overview of some foods to avoid eating, or foods to eat in moderation when it comes to eating a heart-healthy diet!
In case you missed any other parts in this series, you can find the entire series linked below:
1) Part 1: Heart Health Tips for Beginners
2) Part 2: Heart Healthy Diet Myths BUSTED
3) Part 3: Top 15 Heart Healthy Foods
4) Part 4: What NOT to eat!
5) Part 5: Get up and Get Moving!