It’s clear that eating healthy and exercising more can make a big difference in preventing cardiovascular disease, which includes both heart attack and stroke.
An important first step in creating a heart-healthy kitchen is to read and understand food labels. They’re your best reference for assessing what to add to your grocery cart and what to leave on the store shelf. Use the list below to make healthier choices by avoiding these ingredients. If the product contains one or more of these undesirable ingredients, don't buy it! Find an alternative item.
Eight Ingredients to Avoid for Your Heart Health
Sugar, High fructose corn syrup, aspartame, and MSG are considered pro-inflammatory, which is involved in all stages of atherosclerosis. Inflammation influences the formation of artery-blocking clots, the ultimate cause of heart attacks and many strokes. Obviously, this contradicts a heart healthy diet.
2. High fructose corn syrup
3. Artificial sweetener Aspartame
4. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Trans Fat-Containing Ingredients
Vegetable oils, margarine, palm kernal oil, and partially hyrogenated oil contain trans fats which are a huge contributor to heart disease. Not only do trans fats increase inflammation, as discussed above, they also increase production of “bad” cholesterol (LDL), which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Eating trans fats increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke and these fats are also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and a decrease in memory!
1. Vegetable oils and Vegetable Oil Blends: Corn oil, Safflower oil, Soybean oil, Sunflower oil, Cottonseed oil
3. Palm or palm kernel oil
4. Partially hydrogenated oil or vegetable shortening
If you cut back on foods that contain these ingredients, increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet, and get more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, this will make a big difference in your overall health and how you feel.
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods
Mozaffarian D et al. Dietary intake of trans fatty acids and systemic inflammation in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Apr;79(4):606-12.
Kallio P et al. Inflammation markers are modulated by responses to diets differing in postprandial insulin responses in individuals with the metabolic syndrome. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 May;87(5):1497-503.
Aeberli I. Low to moderate sugar-sweetened beverage consumption impairs glucose and lipid metabolism and promotes inflammation in healthy young men: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Aug;94(2):479-485.