Related Topics: Diet, Features

Naughty/Nice But Not So Good For Your Health

We all need, and like, to have a treat every now and again. But if these items are a staple part of your diet that is not so healthy for you.

AnnA Rushton

Sugar, salt, fat

Over time, high amounts of salt, sugar, saturated fat, and refined carbohydrates raise your risk for a heart attack or stroke. If you’re worried about your heart, you’ll want to keep these out of your regular diet.

But rather than fixate on any one bad food, it’s wise to focus on your overall diet. You can still have these things if you mostly eat heart-healthy fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy.


More than half of bacon’s calories come from saturated fat, which can raise your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, and boost your chance of a heart attack or stroke.

It’s full of salt, which bumps up your blood pressure and makes your heart work harder. High amounts of sodium (the main part of salt) can lead to stroke, heart disease, and heart failure.

Bacon’s added preservatives are linked to these issues as well.

Red meat

Eating too much beef, lamb, and pork may raise your odds for heart disease and diabetes. It may be because they’re high in saturated fat, which can boost cholesterol.

More recent studies point to how gut bacteria process a part of the meat called L-carnitine so limit your portions. Go for lean cuts with less fat and maybe switch to turkey mince rather than beef or lamb.

Carbonated drinks

Having small amounts of added sugar isn’t harmful, but a can of soft, carbonated drink has more added sugar than experts recommend for a whole day.

Soft soda drinkers tend to gain more weight and are more likely to be obese and have type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

And while the science is still fuzzy on diet drinks, some research links them to weight gain and strokes.

Your best bet is plain, carbonated, or unsweetened flavoured water.

Baked items

Cookies, biscuits, cakes, and muffins should be rare treats. They’re typically loaded with added sugar, which leads to weight gain.

They’re also linked to higher triglyceride levels, and that can lead to heart disease.

Their main ingredient is usually white flour, which may spike your blood sugar and make you hungrier. Make healthier treats by swapping to whole-wheat flour, trim the sugar, and use liquid plant oils instead of butter or margarine.

Processed meats

Hot dogs, sausage, salami, and luncheon meat are the worst types of meats for your heart. They have high amounts of salt, and most are high in saturated fat.

When it comes to deli meats, turkey is better for you than salami because it doesn’t have the saturated fat. But it still has a fair amount of sodium, so it isn’t as heart-healthy as fresh sliced turkey breast.

White rice, bread and pasta

Rice, bread, pasta, and snacks made from white flour are missing  their healthy fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Refined grains quickly convert to sugar, which your body stores as fat.

A diet high in refined grains can cause belly fat, which studies link to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Try to get at least half your grains from whole grains like brown rice, oats, and whole wheat.

When you shop, look for the words “100% whole grain.”


Pizza can be healthy if you make it the right way, but most take-out pizza and frozen pies have staggering amounts of sodium, fat, and calories, all of which can raise your risk of a heart attack.

When you order, opt for a thin crust (whole wheat or sourdough if possible), ask for less cheese, pile on the vegetables, and skip the pepperoni or sausage, which are loaded with salt.

For the most heart-healthy pizza, make it yourself.


Moderate drinking won’t harm your heart unless you have high blood pressure or high triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood that can boost your odds of heart disease.

Heavy drinking, on the other hand, can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure, strokes, and weight gain.

So if you don’t already drink, don’t start, and keep drinking in moderation .


Butter is high in saturated fat, which can raise your bad cholesterol and make heart disease more likely. You’re better off to limit the amount you use or replace it with olive oil or vegetable oil-based spreads, which contain heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats.

However always check the label on any margarine product as many are hydrogenated which increases their saturated fat content and may also increase their unhealthy trans fats levels.

If you have high cholesterol, a spread with plant sterols may be better. Regular use can help lower your LDL cholesterol levels.

Flavoured, full-fat, yoghurt 

It can be a great source of nutrition and eating it regularly might protect you from high blood pressure. But watch the kind you buy.

Flavoured yoghurts are full of added sugar, with its links to weight gain, high blood pressure, inflammation, and heart disease.

For the healthiest choice, get plain low-fat yoghurt and add your own fresh fruit, cinnamon, or vanilla for flavour.

French fries

The deep-fried potatoes from restaurants and fast-food places have lots of fat and salt, which is bad news for your heart. One study found that people who ate french fries or hash browns 2 to 3 times a week were more likely to die early.

If you indulge, get the smallest portion possible or split your order. Even better: Make your own oven-baked fries with heart-healthy olive oil. They’ll be even better for you if you use sweet potatoes.

Fried chicken

Deep-frying chicken adds calories, fat, and sodium to an otherwise healthy food. Studies have linked fried food with type 2 diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure — all of which raise your odds of heart failure.

For a crispy but healthier choice, bread skinless chicken breasts in whole-wheat flour and bake instead of frying.

Canned  soup

Soup can be an easy way to get more vegetables, protein, and fibre. But watch out for unhealthy ingredients.

Canned soup often has lots of sodium, which can cause high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.Also any cream-based soup has unhealthy saturated fat.

The healthiest way to enjoy soup is to make it from scratch with a low-sodium broth. If you do buy prepared soup, check the label for the least salt and fat.

Salad dressing

The main ingredients of many dressings are typically high in fat, salt, and sugar. This makes it high in fat, sodium, and calories. None of that’s good for your heart.

You can make a healthier version of your favourite creamy dressings by blending low-fat sour cream, yoghurt or cottage cheese with fresh herbs like dill, tarragon, or chives.

Ice cream

Ice cream is high in sugar, calories, and saturated fat, so save it for a special treat. Eating foods loaded with fat and sugar leads to weight gain. It can also drive up your triglycerides and lead to a heart attack.

Cut your calories and fat by choosing sorbet, low-fat or nonfat frozen yoghurt, or frozen fruit bars. Check the label for the least amount of sugar and saturated fat.

Potato crisps 

These are one of the foods that contribute most to weight gain. And not only are they loaded with saturated fat, they’re also covered in salt — which is also linked to heart disease.

Skip the lower-sodium or low-fat potato chips. They’ll just leave you hungry again. The most nutritious snacks combine healthy proteins, carbs, and fats, like whole-grain crackers with low-fat cheese.

Helpful information: 

if you want to follow a healthy diet there are several options available including the Dash diet which is good for heart and bone health or a diet to help with hormone balance.

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