Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., so you need to drop these heart-harming foods from your diet now!
The heart: It’s our most vital organ, but if you ask someone how to best care for yours, they’ll likely tell you to find a nice guy who won’t break it into a million pieces. (Thanks, mom!) Even M.D.s aren’t the best source of heart advice: The average primary care office visit lasts just 10 minutes. So, even if your ticker is in danger, most docs will just tell you to watch what you eat and send you on our way, no other details provided.
That’s not the very prescription to put into practice, and that’s why we’re here to help.
Because They’re High in Salt
Many people know that eating too much salt can raise their blood pressure. But not everyone realizes that uncontrolled high BP can cause their arteries to harden and narrow, increasing the risk of heart disease. That’s not all: Research has also linked obesity to high sodium intake while a JAMA study found that overweight men with the highest salt intakes were 61 percent more likely to die of heart disease than those who consume less of the mineral.
You already know foods like chips and pretzels pack a lot of salt, but here we reveal 10 less-obvious sources of sodium that are making your blood pressure soar. Commit them to memory and keep them far away from your mouth!
1. Canned Vegetables
Veggies may be a cornerstone of a blood-pressure-friendly diet, but not the ones that come out of a can. The preservatives and sauces that keep the vitamin-filled veggies company inside the container are packed with sodium, earning them a spot on our list of foods bad for the heart. Look for “no salt added” or “low sodium” options and be sure to rinse your veggies thoroughly before digging in. Can’t find an unsalted option? Consider switching to frozen vegetables; there are plenty of unsalted selections.
2. Restaurant Soup
Get this: P.F. Chang’s Hot & Sour Soup Bowl, packs an artery-shivering 3,800 milligrams of sodium. That’s more than four days’ worth or the equivalent of about 21—yes, 21—individual bags of Cool Ranch Doritos. Not all restaurant’s bowls of broth are quite that salt-filled, but even chains like Ruby Tuesday and Applebee’s don’t ladle out anything with less than half a day’s sodium per bowl.
3. Cold Cuts
According to a Current Treatment Options in Cardiovascular Medicine report, only 33 percent of Americans are looking to cut back on sodium; however, according to a Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics study, nearly half of Americans consume a sandwich every day—one of the top source of salt in the American diet. Coincidental? We think not. The bread and condiments certainly don’t help the salt situation, but cold cuts and cheese are the primary culprits, contributing about 250 milligrams of sodium per slice. And let’s be real: we all use at least three or four slices of the stuff, which equates to 1,000 milligrams of salt in a single sitting.
4. Tomato Sauce
Want some pasta with that salt!? A half cup of Hunt’s Tomato sauce packs a whopping 830 milligrams of sodium—which is more than you’d find in 97 Cheez-It crackers! To keep your blood pressure from spiking, look for jars of tomato sauce with fewer than 350 milligrams per half-cup serving. Both Amy’s Light in Sodium Organic Family Marinara and Ragu Light No Sugar Added Tomato & Basil fit the bill.
5. Frozen Meals
Frozen dinners may be quick and easy options when you’re time-strapped, but they’re also loaded with sodium. Yes, even the healthy-sounding options. Two prime examples: Lean Cuisine’s French Bread Pepperoni Pizza and Special K’s Sausage, Egg & Cheese Flatbread Breakfast Sandwich each pack 700 milligrams—or just under half a day’s worth. When you’re in the freezer aisle, look for meals with less than 500 milligrams per serving.
6. Vegetable Juice
Prefer to sip your greens rather than chew ’em? Stick with the freshly made varieties from a local juice shop (or your kitchen). The bottled versions are filled to the brim with salt. For example, just 8-ounces of V8 Vegetable Juice Essential Antioxidants has 480 milligrams of sodium. If you have to sip the bottled variety go for V8’s low-sodium blend. It will save you 340 milligrams of sodium, which over the course of a month can really make a difference in your blood pressure levels.
7. Capers & Ketchup
When it comes to your blood pressure and heart health, condiments matter. Those capers you top your Chicken Piccata with? They carry over 200 milligrams of salt per tablespoon. And the ketchup you dip your fries into has 167 milligrams in the same serving size. Scale back on the condiments to maintain your flat belly and keep your ticker in tip-top condition.
8. Cottage Cheese
Even though this breakfast staple doesn’t taste salty, a one-cup serving can carry almost 700 milligrams of the mineral—more than a third of what you’re supposed to have in an entire day. If you’re going to keep the stuff in your breakfast lineup, swap to a no-salt-added variety. Or, better yet, eat a container of Greek yogurt instead. It’s a low-salt, high-protein cottage cheese substitute we’re big fans of.
9. Beef Jerky
Jerky is super trendy right now, thanks in part to the ever-growing Paleo trend. Sure, it’s free of refined grains and packed with protein, but it’s also notoriously high in salt—not good news if you have high blood pressure or want to keep your heart healthy. A small, 1-ounce serving can have an upwards of 700 milligrams of salt, which is more than four times what you’d find in the same serving of chips.
Because They Will Clog Your Arteries
When you have more cholesterol in your blood than what’s considered to be healthy, it can clog your arteries with plaques that increase the risk heart disease. What causes the backup? A diet high in certain types of cholesterol, saturated and trans fats. Read on to meet the most dangerous fat- and cholesterol-laden eats on the planet.
10. Coffee Creamer
Traditional coffee creamers are prime sources of trans-fats, often hiding under the guise of its lesser-known name: hydrogenated oil. Trans fats have been shown to raise cholesterol levels and diminish memory in adults under 45 years old—scary stuff! Our advice: Switch to milk or use one of Coffee Mate’s Natural Bliss creamers—they come in great flavors and are totally free of scary ingredients and heart-harming fats. Alternatively, try tea! One Dutch study found that people who drank three daily cups of antioxidant-filled tea had half the risk of heart attack of those who didn’t sip the brew at all.