Related Topics: Features, Heart Disease, Nutrition

Foods That Are Bad for Your Heart

Women at menopause are more at risk from heart disease than cancer, so it pays to reduce the risk where you can.

AnnA Rushton

Statistically women at menopause are six times more at risk of dying from from heart disease than breast cancer, yet we worry more about that than we do our heart health.

There are many factors that contribute to that risk, many of which may be outside our control such as a family history, but others like healthy lifestyle are definitely within our control.

Exercise and low stress levels are important, but are you still having too many of these nutritional risks?

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 to a minimum.

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 too, which bumps up your blood pressure and makes your heart work harder. High amounts 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.

Look for lean cuts like fillet, rump, sirloin, and extra-lean minced beef.

Soft drinks

Having small amounts of added sugar isn’t harmful, but a can of a carbonated drink has more added sugar than experts recommend for a whole day.  If you have them regularly you will tend to gain more weight and are more likely to be obese and have type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

And if you think diet drinks are better, the sweeteners and preservatives in many links them to weight gain and strokes. Y

Cakes, biscuits and muffins

These are best as occasional treats as 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 bu swapping to whole-wheat flour, reduce the sugar, and use liquid plant oils instead of butter or fat.

Processed meats

Sausage, salami,  luncheon meat and hot dogs 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 meats from the deli counter, 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 or frozen pizzas have staggering amounts of sodium, fat, and calories, all of which can raise your risk of a heart attack.

When you order take away, opt for a thin crust (whole wheat if possible), ask for less cheese, pile on the veggies, 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.


Butter is high in saturated fat, which can raise your bad cholesterol and make heart disease more likely. However butter is a healthier choice as it usually has only two ingredients: milk or milk and salt so ok in small amounts.

You can replace butter with olive oil or vegetable oil-based spreads, which contain heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats but do check the ingredients. If you have high cholesterol, a spread with sterols can help lower your LDL cholesterol levels.

Flavoured, full-fat  yoghurt

Yoghurt can be a super source of nutrition and eating it regularly might protect you from high blood pressure. But watch the kind you buy and read the label.

Flavoured yoghurts are often 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 yogurt 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.

Tinned soup

Soup can be an easy way to get more vegetables, protein, and fibre, but you need to watch out for unhealthy ingredients. Tinned or even fresh soups from the chiller cabinet often have lots of sodium, which can cause high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.

Plus, any cream-based soup has unhealthy saturated fat so the healthiest way to enjoy soup is to make it from scratch with a low-sodium stock. If you do buy prepared soup, check the label for the least salt and fat.

Salad dressings

The main ingredients of this the bought ones dressing, particularly if creamy such as Ranch, blue cheese, or Caesar are typically loaded with salt, and sugar. This makes it high in fat, sodium, and calories.

Stick to oil based ones or you can make a healthier version of your favourite creamy dressings by blending low-fat sour cream or cottage cheese with low-fat milk and fresh herbs like dill, tarragon, or chives.

Ice cream

Delicious yes, but often 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 yogurt, or frozen fruit bars but do check the label for the least amount of sugar and saturated fat.

Potato crisps

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

Don’t switch either to lower-salt or low-fat potato ones as 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 or homemade popcorn tossed with olive oil.

Helpful information: 

To be heart healthy means paying attention to diet, nutrition, exercise, stress and of course hormone balance. It is excess oestrogen that is related to a risk for heart disease and strokes so make sure you know what the signs of oestrogen dominance are and how to help yourself to better heart health.

Increased Heart Disease Risk Link to Body Fat, Not Weight

What Is Oestrogen Dominance?

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