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4 Worst Foods for Your Heart
Published: 2/14/2013

February is Heart Health Month - look for advice throughout the month intended to help you manage cardio-related health concerns.

Yesterday's Daily Tip discussed the best foods for your heart; today we cover some things found in foods that are not so heart-healthy. Minimize these inflammatory aggravators in your diet to help promote optimal cardiovascular functioning.

  1. Trans-fats. Found in most margarines, snack foods, heavily processed foods and some cooking oils, these fats (often listed on food labels as "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" oil) can reduce HDL ("good") cholesterol levels and raise LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels. Also, avoid heated polyunsaturated fats, such as soybean oil used for deep frying. These fats are oxidized; consumption may have a variety of negative health effects.
  2. Animal protein. Excessive animal protein has been shown to raise levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that in high concentrations may contribute to heart disease. Instead of animal protein, try whole soy protein - aim for two servings of whole soy, such as tofu or edamame, per day.
  3. Refined carbohydrates. A diet full of cookies, cakes, crackers, fluffy breads, chips and sodas can increase triglyceride levels and lower HDL.
  4. Sodium. Excessive sodium has been linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. Avoid processed and canned foods, taste foods before you salt them and do not add salt while cooking, avoid foods that are visibly salted and read labels (aim for no more than 1,500 mg sodium per day).
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