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The Worst Foods for Your Heart

A trip to a fast food joint might be just what you're craving — easy and convenient. But it's not a good choice for your heart or overall health. Unfortunately, many favorite sugary, salty, and fatty foods are terrible for your heart.

Your diet plays a significant role in your heart health. Without taking control of your diet, you're at risk for heart disease, stroke, and heart attack, but there are ways to change what you eat to help your heart stay healthy.

If you need help figuring out where to start, our team at the Vein, Heart, and Vascular Institute offers tips and treatments to keep your heart in tiptop shape. Dr. Hesham Fakhri and Dr. Octavio Cosme are our two expert cardiologists who can give you options for heart-healthy foods.

How diet affects the heart

As you may know, your heart is a vital organ that pumps oxygenated blood to essential organs and tissues. So it's crucial to take care of it throughout your lifetime. How and what you eat is also a key to your health, as long as you're eating the right foods.

Diet is one factor that plays a role in the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other dangerous conditions. A poor diet can affect your heart health by putting you at risk for:

The main components of an unhealthy diet include sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.

Sodium increases your blood pressure, which negatively affects your heart and blood vessels. Cholesterol can build up in the arteries, leading to atherosclerosis and a heart attack or stroke if a piece of the plaque breaks off.

Saturated fats and trans fats are simply terrible for your heart. Eating a diet high in these fats and sodium significantly affects your heart long-term.

The good news is you can change your diet relatively quickly to reduce your risk of heart disease and other dangerous health complications.

Worst foods for heart health

The first step in changing your diet for heart health is knowing what foods to avoid. Our team put together this list of the worst foods for your heart health.

Fried foods

Fried foods often add a lot of calories, fat, and salt to otherwise healthy choices. Eating lots of fried foods increases your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.

If you like the idea of fried foods, you can make healthier choices by baking them instead of frying in oil or using an air fryer to achieve the same crispy texture.

Red meat

Red meat is often high in saturated fats, which can increase cholesterol levels over time. Overeating beef and pork increases your risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke.

Although you don't have to cut red meat out completely, focus on eating lean cuts of meat and choosing extra lean ground beef or pork for a healthier option.

Processed meat

Lunch meat is a quick and easy option for a sandwich, but it's not the best choice for your heart. Processed meats like salami, hot dogs, sausage, and deli meats are incredibly high in sodium and saturated fat and, therefore, detrimental to heart health.

Choosing turkey as a lunch meat option is better than most other types, as it's low in saturated fat. But you're better off using fresh-cut turkey breast to avoid excess sodium.

White rice, bread, and pasta

A diet high in white bread, rice, and pasta increases your risk of obesity, belly fat, and diabetes. Heart disease can develop from any of these conditions, which is why you should choose healthier options.

Instead of white rice and bread, choose brown rice or whole-grain bread. You can also use vegetables instead of pasta for a delicious and healthy alternative.


Moderate alcohol consumption isn't necessarily dangerous for your heart unless you have high triglyceride levels or high blood pressure. But drinking a lot of alcohol regularly can significantly increase your risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and stroke, which are all factors in heart disease.


Although butter makes a lot of food taste better, it's a terrible option for your heart. Butter contains lots of saturated fat, contributing to high cholesterol levels.

Use olive oil or vegetable oil-based spreads instead of butter to decrease your risk of heart disease and high cholesterol.

To learn more about keeping your heart healthy, call us at the Vein, Heart, and Vascular Institute today at one of our conveniently located offices in Florida or request a consultation using our online booking tool. We’re located in Tampa, Sun City Center, and Wesley Chapel.

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