I’ve talked to you a lot about how to live a heart healthy life, but now I want to talk to you about why you need to do those things in order to live heart healthy. There are 4 things in your diet that hurt your heart. Of course, none of us want to hurt our hearts, most of us want to live as long as we can, and I want to help you be able to do that. The choices that we make in our diet do have a major impact on the long-term health of our heart. Some of our dietary choices add to our chance of having high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. All of those things can increase our risk of heart disease. So, once you learn how your diet can hurt your heart, you’ll know what to avoid so you can live heart healthy.
1. Saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol can hurt your heart.
Unhealthy dietary choices , like eating foods with high saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol will lead to unhealthy cholesterol levels. This makes the body produce excess LDL, or bad, cholesterol. When there’s long-term high blood levels of LDL, bad, cholesterol and low levels of HDL, good, cholesterol, it leads to the buildup of plaque on arterial walls. This buildup causes heart diseases, including heart attacks that occur in middle age and later in life. Genetic factors can affect cholesterol levels and heart health, as is the case in our family, but unhealthy dietary choices will make it much worse. That’s why we started living a heart healthy diet. I give you some tips on how to avoid these fats in my post, Watch Out for Fats and Sugar in Your Diet.
2. A high sodium diet can hurt your heart.
A diet that is high in sodium, will cause an increase in blood pressure. This higher blood pressure, can damage arterial walls, which makes them thicker and less elastic. Of course, if the walls are thicker, it reduces blood flow which causes your heart to work harder. Your heart pumps oxygenated blood throughout your body, so you don’t want it to have to work harder. That increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. In my post, The 10 Best Heart Healthy Flavor Tips, I give you delicious ways to make your meals more flavorful, without adding salt.
3. Eating excess calories in your diet can hurt your heart.
Obviously, if you eat more calories than you burn off, it’s going to cause you to gain weight. This extra weight makes your heart work harder to deliver that oxygen we talked about in #2. Because your body needs more energy to be able to carry that extra weight, and your heart has to work harder, that gradually enlarges the heart and makes it weaker. It also raises your blood pressure, which we learned above, increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. You are also more likely to get diabetes. Also, those extra calories, raise your triglyceride levels. Triglcerides are a form of fat that’s in the blood. These are created when calories aren’t used for energy, they are carried to the fat cells as triglycerides. These high levels can cause arterial plaque which, like bad cholesterol levels, increases the risk of heart disease. In my post, 14 Ways to Adapt Existing Recipes to be Heart Healthy, I give you ways to make your meals still taste good, but have less calories.
4. Added sugars can hurt your heart.
Since sugar doesn’t have any nutritional value, all it does is provide calories. *Please note that added sugars are different than naturally occurring sugars.* These added sugars have been thought to cause the rise in obesity that we have here in America. Obesity causes a greater risk for high blood pressure and high triglyceride levels. As we talked about above, these factors increase the risk for heart disease and stroke. In #1, I gave you a link to a post that will help you eliminate these added sugars in your diet.
At least with today’s advances in medicine, we know more about the things in our diet that can hurt our heart. We also know what things can delay or prevent heart disease, like not smoking, having a normal body mass index, exercising, eating a healthy diet, all keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels normal.
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I learned about these 4 things in your diet that hurt your heart from The New American Heart Association Cookbook.
I’ve given you links to several of my blog posts about how to live a heart healthy diet. I want to help you learn that once you start living heart healthy, it’s easy to live that way for the rest of your life. Keep reading my blog for more heart healthy tips every week and sign up for the FREE heart healthy resources below.