Best And Worst Heart Foods (Part 1)
July 12, 2014

Best And Worst Heart Foods (Part 1)

In an effort to really help people to give their hearts the love they need, CNN has recently published an article identifying the best and worst foods for our hearts. In a simple and clear article, CNN discusses three of the best foods for our hearts and follows with three of the worst foods for our hearts. Let’s take a look at them, beginning with the worst.

The CNN article lists added sugars, saturated fats, and salt as the foods that are the worst for our hearts.

For added sugars, these are bad because they increase blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Plus, added sugars play a direct role in weight gain and obesity. The other bad part of added sugars is the way they spike glucose levels leading to lots of energy for short periods of time and then an energy crash. This messes with the metabolism and hunger. Added sugars come in obvious forms like sugar-sweetened beverages (sodas, juices, kool-aids, et cetera), cookies, cakes, pastries, candy bars, and other confectionery goodies. Added sugars can come in more sneaky forms like in some yogurts, cereals, pastas, breads, and the like.

The hardest part of the added sugar is that we are addicted to that sweetness. We love sugars. The good news is, though, we can quench the sweet tooth with fruit-based desserts and treats. For those of us who love our sodas, we can even break that habit by drinking sparkling waters. CNN suggests adding a shot glass-sized splash of fruit juice for added flavor in the sparkling water.

The second worst food for our hearts is saturated fats. Saturated fats play a heavy role in boosting blood cholesterol levels, which can lead to atherosclerosis. Basically, saturated fats clog the arteries, and clogged arteries play a distinct role in heart disease. Sources of saturated fats include dairy-based butter, sour cream, mayo, fatty cuts of meat, cocoa butter, palm oil, coconut oil, and coconut milk. You know, all the good stuff. The good news is that a little saturated fat is fine on occasion. In fact, the CNN article acknowledged that “the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting saturated fat so it comprises less than 7% of your total daily caloric intake.”

So, how do we avoid these delicious, but unhealthy, saturated fats? CNN has great advice:

“Instead of butter, spread creamy avocado on whole-grain toast. When making burgers, replace half the ground beef with mushrooms, which provide the same texture and an umami flavor. Meat eaters, why not shift the focus of meals to plant-based proteins or fatty fish, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids?”

The third worst food for our hearts according to the CNN article is salt. Yes, salt, that savory, yummy seasoning that many people crave. The problem with salt, though, is that it can lead to high blood pressure. The AHA states that people should consume no more than 1500 mg per a day of salt. Considering that salt is in everything from drinks to snacks to sweets to foods, we can quickly reach this daily recommendation.

So, what do we do? Well, first of all, instead of adding salt to flavor dishes, think about using other spices. And do not eat processed and fast foods but replace these with potassium-rich foods like potatoes, beans, and greens. Potassium-rich foods help to lower blood pressure.

Okay, now we know what foods are the worst for our hearts and how to avoid these. Now stay tuned for the three best foods for our hearts.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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