Top 5 Foods that Destroy Your Heart

by DailyHealthPost Editorial

In this video, ​we take a deep dive into the top 5 foods hiding in your kitchen that could cause devastating damage to your heart and blood vessels. Chilling? Yes. Preventable? Absolutely!

Top 5 Foods that DESTROY Your Heart

This is an important topic to understand, as cardiovascular disease, or heart disease, is the leading cause of death globally. It accounts for 20 million deaths each year, and includes heart attack and stroke.

This video will clear up a lot of misinformation about what causes heart disease, and arm you with the crucial knowledge and tips to transform your diet and heart health immediately. So, if you’re ready, let’s get into it.

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As always, this video is educational and does not constitute medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare provider about any changes to your health regimen.

First, let’s understand the real cause of heart disease.

Heart disease is caused by damage to the blood vessels or arteries that supply the heart. There are two main factors that initiate this damage – inflammation and oxidative stress.

Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury or infection. But chronic inflammation over time can damage your arteries. Oxidative stress is the imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body. Too many free radicals can harm your blood vessels.

So, what causes chronic inflammation and oxidative stress in the first place?

The number one cause of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress is insulin resistance. This is when your cells become resistant to the effects of the hormone insulin.

Insulin resistance is common, especially in people who are overweight or have diabetes. It leads to higher levels of sugar and fat in the blood, which causes more inflammation and oxidative stress. Current data show that 20-40% of adults in Western countries are insulin resistant.

However, it’s important to know that heart disease can still occur even without insulin resistance. Other potential causes include toxins from smoking, heavy metals, leaky gut, bacterial infections, chronic stress, nutrient deficiencies, and unhealthy fats.

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So, what causes insulin resistance?

The key drivers of insulin resistance are obesity, a sedentary and stressful lifestyle, and overeating foods high in refined carbohydrates, added sugars, and vegetable oils. The signs of insulin resistance a doctor may look for include an expanded waistline, high blood pressure, skin tags, and dark, velvety skin. Insulin resistance is the root cause of type 2 diabetes, fatty liver, and cardiovascular disease. 

Next, let’s understand how insulin resistance leads to heart disease.

So, insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas that helps get glucose or sugar from the blood into the cells, so your body can use it for energy.

If you become resistant to insulin, your cells cannot use insulin at the rate at which it is being produced. This causes high levels of sugar to remain in your blood. It also causes high insulin levels, because your body compensates by increasing insulin production when it senses high sugar levels.

Now, high levels of sugar and insulin inflame and damage the layer of endothelial cells inside your blood vessels, and this leads to more oxidative stress.

It also causes LDL cholesterol particles in the blood to become oxidized or chemically modified. Oxidized LDL is more likely to stick to artery walls and build up into plaque, along with fatty substances, cellular waste products, calcium, and fibrin, and heavily increase inflammation. This plaque accumulation is called atherosclerosis.

So now, your damaged arteries narrow instead of opening wide, and become stiffer over time. This makes it harder for blood to flow and your blood pressure rises. As inflammation continues and immune cells attack the plaque, it can rupture and form blood clots that lead to heart attack or stroke.

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Insulin resistance also leads to fat buildup, especially visceral fat, and metabolic syndrome. That’s because insulin is a fat-storage hormone, and when your insulin levels are high, your body won’t burn fat. Visceral fat and obesity are directly linked to heart disease.

So, to summarize this process: insulin resistance promotes high blood sugar and insulin, which leads to inflammation and oxidative stress, which then damages blood vessels, oxidizes LDL, increases belly fat, and accelerates atherosclerosis.

Fortunately, it’s possible to reverse insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes and heart disease, through lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, stress management, a balanced diet with anti-inflammatory foods, and by avoiding certain foods.

Now, let’s get into the 5 foods that increase the risk of heart attack and stroke you’ll want to avoid.

We begin with Number 5. “Added Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners”.

Added sugar refers to sugar carbohydrates added to food and beverages during processing, cooking or before eating. They include sucrose (table sugar), glucose (dextrose), high-fructose corn syrup, honey, syrups, and fruit juices.

Consuming too much sugar contributes to insulin resistance. It causes extreme fluctuations in your blood sugar, triggers widespread inflammation, and raises your oxidized LDL cholesterol to dangerous levels.

Excess blood sugar causes glycation inside your body, in which substances called Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) speed up the aging process, and damage your organs, skin, joints, and arteries over time. This is why type 2 diabetics look older than their real age. They need to cut back on their consumption of added sugar, including fruit.

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The number one source of added sugars in the American diet is sugary drinks, which provides over 35% of added sugar intake. Sugary drinks include soft drinks, fruit drinks, sweetened teas and coffees, energy drinks, and sports drinks.

So, what is too much sugar? A 12-ounce soda contains around 39 grams of sugar or approximately nine teaspoons. This is already more than the daily added sugar limit of 6 teaspoons recommended by the American Heart Association for women, and equal to the daily limit of 9 teaspoons for men.

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2014, found that people who got 17% to 21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who consumed 8% of their calories as added sugar.

From this evidence, it’s clear that anyone who consumes 1-2 cans of sugary drinks a day, in addition to other sources of dietary sugar, is setting themselves up for heart disease, not to mention fatty liver, and type 2 diabetes.

While artificial sweeteners, such as erythritol and aspartame, used in diet soda, table sweeteners and dairy-based foods are not defined as added sugar, these synthetic sugar substitutes may do more harm than good.

A 2017 published paper from the Boston University School of Medicine, suggests that people who consume more than one artificially-sweetened beverage per day may be up to three times more likely to suffer from a stroke or dementia. Researchers believe these effects may be due to the chemicals used to replace sugar, potentially altering the gut’s microbiome and causing negative health effects.

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Other than sugary drinks and table sugar, the top sources of added sugar to avoid are desserts and sweet snacks, such as cookies, candy, ice-cream, pastries, sweet spreads like jams, breakfast cereals, flavored yogurts and milk, and baked goods, such as breads and muffins.

The next major culprit is Number 4. “Carbohydrates”.

Carbohydrates are mostly made up of sugar. Overeating carbs, especially refined grains like white rice and bread, causes large spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels and increases age-accelerating AGEs in your body. This can lead to insulin resistance over time, potentially progressing to prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Studies show that diabetics are 2 to 4 times more likely than others to develop cardiovascular disease.

Carbohydrates are a vital source of energy your body uses. So, the solution is to reduce the intake of refined carbs and also complex carbs, such as oatmeal and quinoa, even though they are slower to cause blood sugar to rise. Also, eating carbs along with fiber, protein and fats, such as meat, fish, nuts and vegetables, slows down the digestion of carbs, and prevents blood sugar spikes.

One food to avoid if possible is wheat, even whole wheat. Most people do not know that wheat contains an unusual type of carbohydrate called amylopectin, which some tests have revealed can spike your blood sugar higher than even pure table sugar. Furthermore, wheat contains gluten, which causes your gut to become inflamed and leaky, as well as antinutrients such as phytates and lectins, which block your body’s absorption of minerals like zinc, iron, manganese, and calcium.

Next, the #1 worst food for your heart. Number 3 is “Vegetable Oils and Trans Fats”.

There are three reasons why you should avoid vegetable oils like soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, safflower oil, and cottonseed oil, to prevent heart disease and other health problems.

First, all vegetable oils are refined, and they contain some trans fats due to the extremely high heat, solvents, and pressure they are exposed to during the refining process. It doesn’t matter if the labels on the bottles say they are partially hydrogenated, or even non-hydrogenated. You already know why trans fats are deadly. They damage your cell membranes and cause cancer, obesity, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.

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Second, the polyunsaturated fatty acids in vegetable oils become oxidized fats during processing. These oxidized fats are mutated, and they damage cell membranes and cause massive inflammation leading to dysfunction in the arteries. I have included links to the studies below.

This damage is intensified when the vegetable oils are repeatedly reheated, such as when deep frying chicken, French fries and doughnuts. Other than oxidizing fats, deep frying also produces AGEs and toxic compounds such as acrylamide, and HCAs. Frequently consuming these compounds from fried foods is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other chronic diseases.

Third, another major reason why vegetable oils can clog your arteries is because they are mostly made up of inflammatory omega-6 fats, while having very little anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. A  2:1 or even 1:1 for your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is considered healthy, but most vegetable oils skew your ratio as high as 20:1 or even 30:1 in favor of harmful inflammatory omega-6 fats. And remember, these are the oxidized polyunsatured fats, not the healthy kind found in nuts.

The solution is to replace vegetable oils with healthy oils like coconut oil, olive oil, macadamia oil, avocado oil, and grass-fed butter, all of which do not cause any of the health problems we’ve mentioned.

Now, vegetable oils and trans fats are found in almost all processed packaged foods. They include baked goods like biscuits, crackers, and cakes, frozen foods like pizza, coffee creamers, whipped toppings, margarine, and snacks like potato chips.

Now, before we get to the last two foods, let’s talk about saturated fats.

Since the 1950s, we’ve been told by the media that saturated fat from animal products like full-fat cheese and butter, and red meat raises cholesterol and causes heart disease.

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But, over the decades, the “fact” that saturated fats are bad for you has never been proven by any legitimate studies.

Although saturated fat intake does increase your “bad” LDL cholesterol, it actually increases your “good” HDL cholesterol even more, hence improving your overall cholesterol ratio.

Then, there’s evidence that saturated fat may actually be good for you. People who eat a diet rich in natural saturated fats, like certain tribes in Africa who eat lots of whole milk and red meat, have extremely low body fat levels, and heart disease and diabetes are virtually non-existant.

In fact, saturated fats like grass-fed butter and cream, dark chocolate with 72% cocoa and higher, and coconut milk and oil, can actually help you live longer. In particular, grass-fed dairy is an amazing source of vitamin K2, conjugated linoleic acid, and Omega-3 fats that prevent artery clogging and may even reverse heart disease.

Next, let’s talk about Number 2, “Ultra Processed Foods”.

Many of the foods we have mentioned are ultra-processed foods (UPF).

These include frozen meals, soft drinks, hot dogs, bacon, salami, lunch meats, and deli meats, processed cheeses like American cheese or cheese spreads, yogurt that’s loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners, packaged cookies, cakes, and salty snacks.

UPF refers to industrial formulations with 5 or more ingredients. It is addictive and harmful to the heart due to the high levels of sugar, sodium or salt, fats, additives, and lack of nutrition. There’s little or no whole food that gives you vital vitamins and minerals.

According to a study in the British Medical Journal, UPF makes up 58% of the calories eaten in the U.S. and contributes almost 90% of the energy from added sugars.

These highly-modified foods disrupt the gut microbiome, and cause the gut lining to leak toxins, bacteria and large food particles into the bloodstream, triggering inflammation. This increases plaque and hardening of the coronary arteries.

Fortunately, once you stop eating ultra-processed foods, your body starts to heal itself.

And at Number 1, we have “Alcohol”.

Drinking alcohol can damage your heart and lead to heart disease in several ways.

Alcohol consumption can increase insulin resistance, due to the direct effects of alcohol on the liver, which plays a crucial role in the storage and release of glucose. It can also interfere with the normal functioning of the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that helps with insulin action.

Heavy alcohol intake can lead to weight gain and high blood pressure. Long-term heavy drinking can damage the heart muscle, causing a condition called alcoholic cardiomyopathy, which weakens the heart and makes it less effective at pumping blood. Binge drinking, in particular, can cause irregular heart rhythms called arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation, which is a quivering heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, and heart failure.

Some types of alcoholic drinks are worse for the heart than others, such as sugary cocktails like piña coladas and margaritas, Long Island Iced Teas, rum and soda, and high-alcohol craft beers. Healthier alcoholic drink options for the heart include red wine, light beer, and vodka or gin with zero-calorie mixers like soda water. However, no alcohol is completely safe, and moderation is key. This means one drink per day for women and one to two drinks per day for men.

There you have it! The top 5 foods that destroy your heart and blood vessels you’ll want to avoid.

To protect your heart, focus on eating anti-inflammatory whole foods. Click the link below to get your free anti-inflammatory diet plan.

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