When it comes to improving your body, cardiac capacity plays a major role in the process. This is because, according to nutritionist Rania Batayneh, heart healthy foods “contain nutrients that have been shown to benefit the cardiovascular system or reduce the risk of developing heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol and blood triglycerides, reducing blood pressure, controlling weight and/or improving insulin sensitivity”. Therefore, the best foods to eat to improve your stamina and cardiovascular system are produce, nuts, beans, and dairy. However, here are the 5 foods to avoid according to Batayneh and other nutritionists:
Processed Deli Meats: These include any cold cuts you order from the deli such as ham, turkey, and especially salami. According to cardiologist Suzane Fisher, founder of the Fisher Nutrition System in Cooper City, Florida, “processed deli meats consists of nitrates which may increase internal inflammation and chronic inflammation has a direct link with other diseases such as atherosclerosis”. In turn, chronic atherosclerosis can cause the stiffening or narrowing at the arteries, making it difficult to breathe. “Even the lower fat versions of cured lunch meats contain the preservative sodium nitrate-the most perilous of all”, she adds. Therefore, the next time you are at the grocery store, ditch the deli and cook your own meat instead as boiling the food causing the nitrates to evaporate away into the air.
Hot Dogs: Now that lockdown is coming to an end and the weather is getting warmer, barbecue parties are going to be a common sight. However, be cautious before you take a bite into that hot dog or sausage because, according to Batayneh, these foods “are high in saturated fat. Even low fat options tend to be packed with salt. Its important to watch your sodium intake, as more dietary sodium often leads to higher blood pressure”. Also, as hot dogs and sausages fall into the category of cold cuts, the same effect as “processed deli meats” can apply to hot dogs as well in that they can attack your arteries “suffocating” them until you can’t breathe. Enjoy your next barbecue party!
Ketchup: According to the H.J Heinz company, ketchup is the most purchased condiment in the world “with over 650 million packets and bottled purchased per year!” However, this does not stop ketchup from being one of the worst foods for your heart. According to Miami cardiologist Juan Rivera, “ketchup, especially store-bought is loaded with added sugar and sodium. Just two tablespoons contain 320 milligrams of sodium, which is 14% of the recommended sodium intake limit of 2,300 milligrams, recommended by the American Heart Association. Plus, it boasts eight grams of sugar per two tablespoon serving”. This may explain why America is such an obese nation especially when putting ketchup on a hot dog!
Fried Chicken: It should come as no surprise that fried chicken has more cardiovascular health risks than other chicken alternatives. In fact, a study in the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition found that participants who consumer larger amounts of fried chicken had a higher risk for death from coronary artery disease. According to Batayneh, “conventional frying methods include oils that contain trans fats, a type of fat shown to raise the bad type of cholesterol and lower the good kind”. What’s worse in trans fats have become more prevalent in today’s society due to their ability to be reused. While the Food and Drug Administration has banned their use in restaurants, it is unlikely that fried foods and trans fat will be completely phazed out.
Packaged Cookies: Examples of packaged cookies include Chips Ahoy, Oreos, Stella Doros, and anything that is considered “fat free” rather than “reduced fat”. According to Fisher, “While these snacks were once touted as a healthier option for individuals wanting to lose weight and maintain a healthier lifestyle, that is no longer the case. What it doesn’t have in fat, it makes up for in sugar. Read food labels and ingredient lists to determine how many grams of sugar may have been added as a fat substitute. Many types of natural fats are healthy and promote satiety, which in the long run, can reduce cravings and overeating”. Fat free foods, especially packaged cookies, cannot reciprocate that effect and intake should be reduced or avoided entirely.
While your body is composed of a network of systems, many of these processes would not function if not for the cardiovascular system. Your body cannot function without hormones and oxygen and it is the cardiovascular system’s job to deliver those nutrients to improve your health. However, the body will struggle if the wrong foods are consumed. Remember, you are what you eat so choose wisely and dig in!