Keeping a healthy heart: Foods and habits to Avoid

Heart is one of the most important organs in our body that pumps blood and supplies oxygen and other nutrients to our brain and other vital organs to function.

Thus, we need to keep our hearts healthy to live our lives fully. Here are some foods and habits to AVOID for A Healthy Heart:

1. Avoid processed food. Processed foods are high in sodium and basically high in saturated and trans fats. Excessive consumption of these foods can increase blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. Foods high in saturated and trans fats include butter, cream, cheese, cakes, cookies, whole milk, processed meats like bacon, sausage, salami, and ham, and salty snacks like chips.
Instead, consume healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, poultry, and fish rich in omega 3 fatty acid. Increasing intake of fiber rich-foods also aids in the effective elimination of fat and cholesterol thereby lowering blood cholesterol levels.

2. Avoid fatty, salty and sugar-rich foods. Deep-fried foods like french fries, donuts, and croquettes are high in saturated fat. When frying food, it absorbs more oil, increasing its fat content. On the other hand, canned goods, processed instant meals and noodles, table salt and other condiments such as soy sauce, bagoong, patis (fish sauce), and seasoning are high in sodium. Excessive intake of these raises blood pressure. Studies also show that high intake of refined/added sugar poses increase risk for heart disease.

To limit intake of fatty food, cook the healthy way! Instead of pan frying and deep frying. Boiling, steaming, poaching, baking, and roasting lessens the oil and fat content of the food. You may also use herbs and spices as flavoring substitutes to your meals to enhance its taste. Eating fruits, which contain natural sugars, is also a best alternative snack instead of eating cookies, cakes and other artificially sweetened food. 

3. Avoid smoking. Nicotine is a harmful chemical component found in cigarettes which increases blood pressure and heart rate. It also causes the narrowing of the arteries which reduces blood flow to the heart. The carbon monoxide also present in the smoke also reduces the amount of oxygenated blood carried to the heart and other organs.

4. Avoid intake of alcoholic beverages. Excessive consumption of alcohol increases LDL (bad cholesterol) and lowers HDL (good cholesterol) which increases the risk of hypertension, heart failure or stroke. Alcoholic beverages have a high caloric content, approximately seven (7) calories per gram, which significantly contributes to weight gain with excessive intake, resulting in obesity. It also inhibits nutrient absorption, which could also lead to nutrient deficiencies. Other serious illnesses associated with excessive alcohol consumption include liver cirrhosis and certain types of cancer.

To have a healthy heart, it is important to maintain our desirable body weight, be physically active and have a regular medical check-up since environmental factors also plays important role in the development of heart diseases, especially to individuals with family history of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).