Valentine’s Day is almost here, but frankly it’s always a good time to look out for your heart. Most of us try to eat healthily but some of the worst offenders still sneak under the radar. It’s important not to take your heart, that grape-fruit sized pump, for granted because, if all goes according to plan, it will beat almost three billion times from birth to death. Keep that in mind as you peruse this list of 5 foods that health experts say terrible for your heart.
With all due respect for the beloved American condiment, it’s chock full of sugar and sodium. Just two tablespoons has eight grams of sugar sodium. According to the American Heart Association, women should only consume 25 grams of sugar in a day, so that ketchup is eating up a lot of your quota.
“Ketchup is very high in sodium as well,” says Juan Rivera, MD, a cardiologist in Miami, Florida and chief medical correspondent for Univision Network and the author of The Mojito Diet, as Prevention noted.
If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Fat-free sounds like a get out of jail free card but there’s often a catch, nutritionally.
“Fat-free packaged foods were once touted as a healthy option for individuals wanting to lose weight and maintain a healthier lifestyle,” says Suzanne Fisher, RD, LDN, founder of Fisher Nutrition Systems in Cooper City, Florida, to Prevention. Not anymore. Experts say you should steer clear of any product that is not normally fat-free. What it doesn’t have in fat, it may well be making up for in sugar.
There was a time when margarine was considered a healthier alternative to butter but many experts now believe that diets high in trans fats appear to raise a person’s risk of heart disease. As Time reports, trans fats are common in sticks of margarine that are solid at room temperature. To be safer, choose a soft, spreadable margarine that contains no partially hydrogenated oils, or stick with olive oil.
You might have to ditch the deli because processed and cured meats are often high in saturated fat. Even low-fat options tend to be very high in salt. Just six thin slices of deli meat can contain half the daily recommended level of sodium, according to the American Heart Association.
More “people should be on a salt-restricted diet because of sodium’s link to high blood pressure,” says Dr. Laxmi Mehta, director of the Woman’s Cardiovascular Health Program at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, as Time cited. “Sometimes my patients with elevated blood pressure are able to make significant improvements just by adjusting their diet.”
LOW-FAT SALAD DRESSING
This one is tricky because it sounds like it might be the healthy choice but low-fat or reduced fat salad dressings are often brimming with sugar and salt.
“When fat is removed, sugar is typically added to maintain the taste and texture,” says Fisher. Sadly, just because it’s low in fat or calories, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
5 surprising foods that can be bad for your heart