February is American Heart Month. Fittingly, because it is also the month that we celebrate Valentine's Day, but more importantly because Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States! And before you stop reading because you think this article doesn't apply to you, you should know that just because your last cholesterol screening was in the "normal" range, DOES NOT mean your heart is healthy. There are several other factors to consider, such as family history, lifestyle and the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL ("good" cholesterol). My own husband is a perfect example of this. As a firefighter he received a physical and blood work annually. For more than 16 years, his total cholesterol was always in the "normal" range the. This past year he suffered two major heart attacks and went into cardiac arrest at home within 6 weeks time.....THAT is not normal.
As a healthcare provider, I know how much stress and lack of sleep can negatively impact the heart. While the effects of these stressors are not as tangible as the effects of a high fat diet, they, along with foods other than fats, can be much more damaging.
We have all heard, "avoid foods heavy in cholesterol and salt, and skip the fatty cuts of meat", right? Well, just when you have weened yourself off those bad trans-fats and high cholesterol foods, new research reveals a worse culprit to diseasing hearts.
These new studies have complicated all that old heart health advice. In just the past few years, studies have found dietary cholesterol, sodium, and fat just aren't the heart wreckers we once thought them to be. Even saturated fat may be moving to the okay list. "Multiple recent reports find no association between dietary saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease," says Jeff Volek, PhD, RD, a professor of food science at The Ohio State University.
Here's the current scoop on the worse foods for your ticker:
So-called "simple sugars" like the ones loaded into regular soda stoke inflammation and raise blood sugar levels. All this can put more stress on artery walls and increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. The more soda you drink, the higher your risk soars, period. Additionally, heavy intake of refined sugar causes type 2 diabetes and obesity, both of which are huge risk factors for heart disease. Soda can spike your insulin levels by such a high amount that even if you drink only one can per a day, you can increase your risk of suffering a heart attack by up to 20%. Instead, choose green tea, plain or flavored water or seltzer.
2. Processed Meats
Processed meats like bacon, hot dogs, sausage, and even deli meats, like turkey breast are high in sodium and contain many preservatives. They often include added nitrates and nitrites, which have both been linked to causing certain heart problems. Processed meats also have more saturated fat and less protein than any self-prepared meats.
3. Baked Goods & Refined Carbs
Again, anything that contains "table sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, molasses, and other sweeteners" appears to cause higher rates of oxidative stress. As a result, these sweetener, and the pies, cakes, and other treats that contain them, can lead to clogged arteries, hypertension, heart failure, and other forms of cardiovascular disease. Additionally, condiments, like ketchup, salad dressing and pasta sauces, and low-fat yogurt—are more common sources of sugar and refined carbs you should consume in limited amounts.
Need help with changing your lifestyle and improving your health without drugs? We can do that. Dr Cheryl Kent is your Winter Park and Orlando Chiropractic Physician, Nutritionist and Exercise Physiologist dedicated to helping patients and their families Create Balance, so that they can Live Well. Book online or contact our office today.
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Winter Park, FL 32789