Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, according to the CDC? Heart related health issues are unfortunately very common in the United States. While things like genetics and certain medications can make them worse, or even be the source, it can be exacerbated by things like your diet and lifestyle. One way to invest in your heart health is to eat a balanced, healthy diet, and know what foods you should avoid or cut back on. One thing that is especially problematic for heart health is processed foods. Most processed foods have excessive amounts of sugar added in the process of being made, and high sugar diets have been shown to be direct links to increased risk of heart disease. But are there some that are worse than others?
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According to Dr. Raed Bargout, a cardiologist at Dignity Health-Glendale Memorial Hospital in Glendale, California, processed meat is one of the worst, especially processed deli meat. “Processed deli meat is on the top of the list for food that can increase the risk of cardiovascular events including heart attacks and stroke.” He says. If you like adding deli meat to your sandwiches, consider cooking turkey or chicken fresh instead.
Caitlin Policastro, a nurse practitioner at the New York Center for Innovative Medicine, says that eating too much pork specifically could be especially tricky. “Besides the fact that [it’s] are loaded with saturated fat—leading to cardiovascular problems, high cholesterol, weight gain and more—most pigs are given high doses of antibiotics to keep them alive prior to being slaughtered,” she says, “In addition to being loaded with antibiotics, pigs have a difficult time eliminating toxins because their digestive systems are extremely basic, which compounds the problem.”
Pork deli meat are some of the worst, particularly because they are usually very high in added sodium. Another processed meat that is high in sodium is jerky. As a matter of fact, Health.com reports that “A 1-ounce portion can pack nearly 20% of the daily advised sodium limit for adults.” While sodium is a necessary mineral for your wellbeing, too much of it can be harmful. Excessive sodium in the diet can lead to high blood pressure, and high blood pressure is one of the biggest risks for heart disease and stroke. All in all, you should consider avoiding processed meat, especially jerky beef, as they can have dangerous effects on your heart health.
Physical wellness involves a lot of moving pieces, and making changes to your lifestyle don’t happen overnight. Everything from diet, exercise, staying hydrated, and getting good sleep are essential components. Making small changes and adjustments every day is the best way to see sustainable change, and invest in your long term wellbeing. Balance is key, so focus on enjoying junk food in moderation, while making sure to take in healthy foods regularly as well.