Foods that are bad for your heartMonday, March 01, 2021
CARDIOVASCULAR disease remains one of the leading causes of death among Jamaicans, accounting for approximately 30 per cent of all deaths annually, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Unfortunately, if the predictions of medical experts prove right, the prevalence of this disease across the population will continue to trend upwards. Fortunately for you, dietician and nutritionist Jenelle Solomon said that if you are serious about escaping this epidemic, you can lower your risk of heart disease by ditching some of the foods that can be hard on the heart.
“Unhealthy consumption is a big part of the reason why we are seeing so many people with heart-related diseases and so many others who are at risk of these diseases. If we want to change this outlook, not only do we need to encourage people to eat a balanced diet but we must also plead with them to stop eating so many things that are bad for the heart,” Solomon explained.
Not sure what to dump on your way to a healthier heart? Perhaps you can start with the list of foods Solomon shares below.
Meat high in saturated fats such as pork, beef and oxtail are a major source of protein, but are also very high in saturated fat which can boost cholesterol levels. This is bad for the heart. So monitor your portions and choose lean cuts whenever you decide to prepare them, but make sure to consider adding more plant-based proteins to your diet.
Many of our breakfast options contain processed meat — bacon, sausages, deli meats, etcetera, all of which have way too much salt and saturated fat — even in the low-fat options. Solomon recommends avoiding these meat options as often as you can because of the negative effect they can have on one's blood pressure.
We love to indulge in a lot of fast food meal options like fried chicken, burgers and pizza, but these are usually simple carbs, salts and sugars — they are a quick grab and go option. “Unfortunately, these foods have a lot of trans fat which increases bad cholesterol while lowering good cholesterol which increases your risk of heart disease,” Solomon shared
Salt threatens heart health, so if you are serious about staving off heart disease you need to make sure that you take note of how much you use in meal prep. “I always encourage patients to try only using half the amount that the recipe requires, and only add more if the meal needs it. Also, resist the urge to add salt to your meal at the dinner table,” Solomon advised. To reduce your chances of doing this, she recommends removing the salt shaker from your table altogether.
Many of us use canned and pre-packaged foods and snacks daily — they are convenient and cheaper in most instances. On the downside, Solomon said that these canned and pre-packaged foods are often high in calories and packed with unhealthy portions of sodium and sugar. This can affect your blood sugar and pressure levels, which can contribute to heart disease.
Go slow on condiments
We barely use them, right? How much harm can a little ketchup, mayonnaise and salad dressing do? A lot, apparently, according to Solomon, who says that not only do they contain unhealthy fats, but they also have a lot more salt and sugar than your heart appreciates. So replace them with healthier options — yoghurt on salads, for example, is divine.
Of note, in the past energy drinks were usually had when you just needed a little more energy to stay up or a little extra oomph to get you through the day. But now, a lot of people drink them around the clock. “They seem oblivious to the fact that these drinks contain a lot of added sugar as well as that the ingredients in these drinks can trigger an offset of blood pressure and arrhythmia,” Solomon advised.
Most of us can't resist a good pastry — it can complement your meal just about any time of the day. And while there is no harm in treating yourself once in a while, overindulging in baked goods can affect the heart. “Baked goods often have a high content of sugar and saturated fats, like butter, margarine and lard. Consuming a lot of this over time will no doubt raise a person's risk of developing heart disease,” Solomon explained.
Sodas and other juices
Sodas and other artificially sweetened juices are all high in artificial sweeteners which once consumed triggers a spike in the natural blood sugar levels. Of note, this not only affects blood sugar levels, but over time its consumption also leads to weight gain and inflammation which can cause as well as exacerbate cardiovascular disease.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login