When it comes to our health and wellbeing, diet is one of the key factors that plays a role.
Eating too much of certain foods can increase your risk for specific conditions. Inversely, other foods are known to lower your risk.
This rule applies to cardiovascular disease, a range of conditions that affect the heart and circulatory system. It is common in the UK, accounting for around a quarter of all deaths every year.
If you are worried about your heart health for this reason, there are three popular foods you need to avoid, experts have warned – and they might be ones you consume regularly.
But following this advice could be a real “game-changer” for your heart health, a nutritionist said.
So what are these foods? According to a trio of experts these are:
This is probably the biggest offender of the lot.
The high-sodium content in bacon can seriously increase your blood pressure.
Speaking to Huffington Post, Michelle Routhenstein – a preventive cardiology dietitian-nutritionist, said: “The way bacon is made can lead to adverse effects on heart health.
“The curing process of bacon with sodium nitrite and its high sodium content can elevate blood pressure, while the compounds formed during cooking, like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines (HCAs), contribute to inflammation and damage to blood vessels, collectively increasing the risk of heart disease.”
As well as bacon, experts recommend cutting out mass produced white bread to help heart health.
This can cause “rapid blood sugar spikes” according to Michelle.
She explained that white bread has a “high glycemic index” as well as a “lack” of nutrients and fibre compared to wholegrain alternatives.
“[This] can lead to rapid blood sugar spikes, insulin resistance and weight gain, all of which increase the risk of heart disease and related complications,” she said.
Dr Daniel Luger, a preventive cardiologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago advised what to look for when buying bread.
He said: “When looking at the ingredient list, you want to see the first ingredient being listed as whole (whole wheat, whole grain, etc.)
“Ideally, when looking at the ingredient list you want to see only a handful of ingredients and be able to recognise what those ingredients are.”
Perhaps the most obvious on the list, experts have recommended staying away from chips.
When food is fried, its nutritional content “changes” according to Dr Saman Setareh-Shenas, a cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai.
The type of oil used to cook chips is often bad for your cholesterol levels and on top of that they’re typically covered in salt, so eating them increases your sodium intake.
Sodium is associated with high blood pressure and an “increase in heart disease”.
Dr Setareh-Shenas added that regularly eating fried foods has been linked to coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity.
What should you be eating more of?
Dr Luger recommended an increased consumption of legumes like lentils, chickpeas and beans.
He said: “Legumes are high in healthy fibre and help promote satiety, regulate bowel movements and feed healthy gut bacteria.
“Also, legumes can easily be made in bulk and are great for weekday meals.”
Michelle added: “Quinoa and whole-wheat bread are heart-healthy choices due to their rich nutrient profile, including fibre, phosphorus, zinc, plant-based protein and antioxidants, which collectively lower LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
“Their high fibre content regulates blood sugar levels and supports a healthy gut, contributing to overall heart health.”