When it comes to foods for better heart health, you roughly know what to eat, but do you know what to avoid? SingHealth dietitians give the lowdown on what you should cut down.
We figured that since you read our "10 Super Foods Good for Your Heart" article (click the link if you haven't), you'll also be interested to know what to AVOID as well! After all, it doesn’t make sense if you eat all the good stuff one day but end up cramming your body with all the unhealthy stuff the next.
There are three broad categories of foods that you should avoid for better heart health:
It is hard to avoid salt when you live in a food paradise such as Singapore, and
we are not asking you to cut it out completely, but to LIMIT your intake instead. The average Singaporean ingests 9g of salt per day, way more than the recommended 5g per day that the human body needs to function.
Not just detrimental to your heart, too much salt also brings about many issues such as raise blood pressure or create kidney problems.
Here are some easy ways to reduce your salt intake, whether you cook at home, eat out or when grocery shopping.
Sugar is something else that tempts many of us. It is hard not to go for dessert after meals in Singapore!
(Editor’s Note: The HealthXchange team is more than guilty of this)
However, besides heart issues, excess sugar can lead to other problems such as weight gain (duh!), higher risk of
diabetes, higher risk of cancer, and something that the ladies would most definitely care about – faster skin aging! These are just some of the effects of sugar, so try to control your sweet tooth for your own sake.
On this note, it may come as a suprise to you but there is actually a scientific reason why we crave sugary foods, you can read more about it here.
But scientific reason aside, there is no excuse to go overboard on sugar. If you are serious about wanting to lower your sugar intake, check out these
6 quick ways to start.
3. Fat (saturated fat and trans fat)
Saturated fat is commonly found in red meat and dairy products, and it has been shown to raise the low density lipoprotein (LDL) in your body. In layman terms – the ‘bad’
Trans fat, on the other hand, is deemed to be much worse. It not only raises the LDL in your body, it also LOWERS the ‘good’ cholesterol – high density lipoprotein (HDL).
It is hard for us to avoid either one of these totally as they may occur naturally in food, but just be aware of what you are eating and how much of it you are eating. In this case, knowledge is power!
Here are some foods that are prime examples of what you should limit, or even avoid totally.
Bacon, ham, hotdogs – if hearing these items makes your mouth water, you might be in a bit of trouble. Most processed meats (defined as meat that has been salted, cured, chemically treated to make it last longer) are high in saturated fat and sodium. Processed meat has also been shown to be a cause for cancer.
Fast food is a classic example that boasts a menu of predominantly procesed meats. You'll be shocked at how much it increases your risk of heart disease if you have it once a week or more. The answer can be found
Deep fried food
Deep frying is associated with creating trans fat in food, so items like the perennial favourite fried chicken, and ‘staples’ like French fries should be limited. Frying a plate of broccoli at home with vegetable oil is fine – think of deep frying as the type of frying you DON’T do at home, where items are usually coated with batter and dunked into hot oil. These foods are also high in calories, so too much isn’t doing your waist any favours as well.
Cookies and pastries are usually made with high amounts of sugar, and also likely contain saturated fats and trans fats from the butter or oils used. While there are supposedly healthier options out there, the majority of such items will increase the risk of heart problems and lead to weight gain.
Sweetened, sugary drinks
Sweetened drinks like bubble tea or canned soda has probably the entire day’s worth of sugar that you body needs to function. Besides impacting the heart negatively, the effects of too much sugar is also widely documented. Did we mention that Singapore has a ‘War on Diabetes’ already?
Notice a trend here? All the items we mention tie in to the three broad categories to avoid! So just be mindful of those three main components of food and you should be all good.
Why your heart is important
In Singapore, almost 1 in 3 deaths are attributed to cardiovascular disease (heart diseases and stroke). Risk of heart disease gets higher as you age, and unhealthy lifestyle choices such as lack of exercise, eating unhealthily, smoking and excessive drinking definitely play a part. Don’t get us started on the
risk factors you CAN’T control! (Click the link to find out what they are) So do what you can to protect your heart today!
Check out other articles on heart health:
3 Best Exercises for the Heart
6 Great Ways to Lower Triglycerides
11 Ways to Strengthen Your Heart