3 Popular Foods Cardiologists Avoid Eating At All Costs

According to cardiologists and other health experts, the nutritional composition of certain foods can support different aspects of our heart health. Take fruits and vegetables, for example. The nutrients within many of these foods have protective properties against heart disease (via Mayo Clinic). Alternatively, fish that are packed with omega-3 fatty acids can help regulate triglyceride levels, while whole-grains can help keep our blood pressure in check. Just as certain foods can benefit our heart health, others may put it at risk.

Among the top foods that many cardiologists advise forgoing — and choose to forgo themselves — is potato chips. Survey data published by Statista revealed that over 284 million people in the U.S. snacked on potato chips in 2020. While chips may be satisfyingly salty, cardiologist Dr. Elizabeth Klodas wrote in an article for CNBC that if we were to eat approximately 1 ounce of potato chips daily for a year, we would end up consuming around ¾ cup of salt, resulting in up to 15 pounds of weight gain. Because of these health risks, Dr. Klodas said that she personally abstains from eating chips at all costs.

How processed meats can negatively impact our heart health

Many cardiologists are also wary of processed meats. This includes products like salami, hot dogs, bacon, and beef jerky — although some experts state that beef jerky may be among one of the healthiest snacks you can find while on the go.

Consultant cardiologist Dr. Neil Srinivasan told The Telegraph that he advises against salami, in particular, which can be loaded with calories and saturated or trans fats, otherwise known as unhealthy fats. This includes snacks in which salami and other processed meats may be hiding, such as on pizzas or in sausage rolls. When fried in oil or butter, this can be a recipe for high cholesterol and heart disease.

"Sometimes the addition of suet, dripping, deep-frying in lard or wrapping things in bacon might enhance flavour but it's just heaping on more additives," Dr. Srinivasan told the outlet. Not to mention the added salt that can be found in processed meats, which draws water into our blood vessels and boosts blood pressure — another factor known to contribute to heart disease. Dr. Sharonne Hayes, professor of cardiovascular medicine, told Yahoo! News that processed meats also often contain nitrates, which have been linked to cancer.

Drinking sugary beverages may increase our risk of cardiovascular disease

The third item you'll find that many heart specialists steer clear of isn't so much a food but a beverage. You can find a great deal of sugar, caffeine, and empty calories in fizzy beverages, such as soda or energy drinks. Subsequently, experts at Orlando Health explained that these drinks can make us susceptible to health conditions like diabetes and metabolic disease, both of which have been associated with the development of cardiovascular disease. Together, the sugar and caffeine content of these drinks pack a one-two punch, potentially leading to heart palpitations or arrhythmias.

While some doctors may choose to remove these foods and beverages from their diet altogether, being mindful of our intake can also help reduce our risk of heart disease. "There isn't a food that will save your life ... And there isn't one that's going to kill you. It is about balance," Dr. Hayes told Yahoo! News. Indulging in a handful of potato chips every now and again isn't something to fear; rather, we just want to be conscientious of the amount of chips we're eating, and how often.