Foods to Avoid for Heart Patients

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Fast food is laden with unhealthy fats and sodium.
Fast food is laden with unhealthy fats and sodium. (Image: french fries image by Wimbledon from Fotolia.com)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Certain risk factors, such as age and genetics, are beyond our control. However, we can adopt certain lifestyle behaviors to promote good health. Following a well-balanced diet is one way we can protect ourselves against heart disease.

Trans Fats

Trans fats are made when an oil is partially hydrogenated to create a more solid and shelf-stable fat. Trans fats decrease HDL--or good--cholesterol and increase LDL--or bad--cholesterol in our bodies, according to the Mayo Clinic. Consume less commercially baked goods, fried foods and any other foods made with partially hydrogenated oils.

Saturated Fats

Saturated fat, found in animal products, can elevate blood cholesterol levels, according to the American Heart Association. Choose low-fat or fat-free milk and dairy products; consume less red meat; trim off visible fat from meat and poultry; and avoid butter, shortening and lard. The American Heart Association recommends that no more than seven percent of your daily calorie intake come from saturated fats.

Dietary Cholesterol

Though trans fats and saturated fats are more influential in blood cholesterol levels, excessive dietary cholesterol may also have a negative impact in people with heart disease. Dietary cholesterol is naturally found in foods high in saturated fats as well as shellfish, egg yolks and organ meats.

Sodium

Having too much salt in your diet can increase blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease, according to "U.S. News & World Report." Table salt contains sodium as well as many processed foods. Do not salt your food, choose low-sodium products, and avoid canned foods and frozen dinners.

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