Foods To Avoid Like The Plague
February 22, 2013

Foods To Avoid Like The Plague

Okay, so forgive the cliché in my title, but sometimes nothing says it better than a cliché. In the last week or so, the Huffington Post had an article about foods that are bad for our hearts. February is American Heart Month, so thinking about heart-damaging foods should be on the top of our list.

As the article explains, we know those foods that are good for our hearts, but we sometimes forget to identify the foods that are particularly bad for our hearts. So, I thought I would write a blog about those foods identified by the Huffington Post as bad for our hearts and contribute to heart disease.

The first food discussed in the article is processed meats, including hot dogs, bacon, and deli meats. All of these foods, even the lean options like turkey dogs, bacon, or deli meats, often have nitrates and nitrites, which have both been linked to heart problems. Moreover, these “meats” have a link to a higher risk of diabetes and pancreatic cancer.

I have a little analogy about hot dogs. My dear friend bought her 10 year old son crawdads (also known as crawfish or crayfish) as pets. One night he ran out of his regular crawdad food (don’t ask me what that would be cause I don’t know.), so he gave them bits of hot dogs. The next morning, he awoke to dead pets floating in a curtain of grease. As my friend says, “Hot dogs kill crawdads, so what are they doing to humans?”

The second food that we should limit in our diet is red meat. I know. I know. People love their steaks and burgers. However, they should eat red meat less often than not. As the article says, “consider it more a treat than a staple in your diet.” Red meat is high in saturated fat, so minimizing how often people eat it will help provide better heart health. Also, choose lean or extra-lean cuts of beef.

This next food that is bad for our hearts is one that breaks my heart: pizza. One slice of pizza may contain up to two-thirds the daily recommended limit of saturated fat. I know; I am devastated, too. Pizza is one of my favorite bad foods, but heart health is certainly more important. Thinking of pizza as treat instead of staple is as important as opting for veggie toppings instead of extra cheese or pepperoni.

Fourth comes alfredo sauce. This seems like a no brainer since it is made from butter, cream, and cheese, all high in fats. Limiting the intake of this dish will help minimize one’s saturated fat content. Yes, it is tasty, but it is also fatty. One or two tablespoons is all one should eat with a meal. And Huffington Post suggests, “If you’re making your own at home, try a lightened-up recipe, like this one from SparkPeople, which replaces butter with olive oil, cream with skim milk and cuts down on the amount of cheese.”

Trans Fats are fifth on the list of foods to avoid. Avoid foods that have hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils in them.

I know at this point our hearts are breaking at the foods we must avoid and minimize. Well, it is about to get worse for some of us. Fried foods take sixth place as foods that hurt our heart health. That means seriously limiting French fries, fried chicken, onion rings, and other fried foods.

As an accompaniment to fried foods, we should also avoid sodas. Not only are they bad for our hearts, but they also have empty calories that contribute to obesity. A link to depression has been found with sodas as well (click here to see my blog about that).

Naturally, if fried foods and sodas are no-nos, then so is fast food. We have long known that fast food is loaded with saturated fats, trans fats, sugar, and sodium, all of which are bad for our hearts, especially in excess. Plus, fast food joints also have processed foods, which were top of the list of foods to avoid.

Clearly, many of these foods are linked in one way or another, which should make it easier for us to avoid or at least control. If we want healthy hearts, we need healthy diets. This is a good start to knowing what foods to avoid.

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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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