Foods to Avoid to Protect Your Heart

Photo of Daisy Whitbread Written by Daisy Whitbread
BSc (Hons) MSc DipION
Photo of Dr. Thomas Kutner Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Thomas Kutner
Evidence Based. References sourced from PubMed.
Foods to Avoid to Protect Your Heart

A heart-healthy diet is a balanced and varied diet, high in plant foods and based on whole, unprocessed foods. It should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, and fish (if eaten). Processed foods, red meat, and foods high in saturated fats should be minimized.

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the world. There are also some specific foods, food ingredients, and food groups that are particularly harmful to the health of the cardiovascular system.

They cause harm in several ways: by raising blood pressure, increasing cholesterol levels, damaging blood vessels, or promoting harmful processes in the body, such as oxidation and inflammation.

Limit and avoid the following foods to protect your heart.

Lifestyle Factors to Avoid to Prevent Heart Disease

  • Weight gain - maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of heart disease. Keeping your BMI at the lower end of the healthy range, at around 20 or 21 will give you the lowest risk.
  • Sedentary lifestyle - sitting down for long periods is detrimental to overall and cardiovascular health. Just getting up and walking around every hour (or even better every half hour) is beneficial (set an alarm while you get into the habit) and performing tasks standing instead of sitting whenever possible. For example, walk around while on the phone and try a standing desk if you have a desk job.
  • Smoking - still the leading cause of preventable deaths and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as many other health problems.
  • Alcohol - a small glass of red wine may have some benefits, but drinking more than this increases your risk of cardiovascular and other health problems.
  • Stress - stress is another key risk factor for cardiovascular problems, so including stress-relieving techniques such as exercise, yoga, meditation or breathing exercises is beneficial.

Data Sources and References

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