Heart disease is the leading cause of death globally. Most cases can be prevented by making dietary changes.

According to recent research, 2 out of every 3 heart disease deaths could be prevented by adopting a healthy diet (1).

This study found that cutting out processed foods could reduce your risk significantly. For those who have a family history of heart disease, this is especially important.

According to the study author, Dr. Xinyao Liu, “More than 6 million deaths could be avoided by reducing intake of processed foods, sugary beverages, trans and saturated fats, and added salt and sugar, while increasing intake of fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. Ideally, we should eat 200 to 300 mg of omega-3 fatty acids from seafood each day,”

Processed Food and Heart Health

Processed Food and Heart Health

What is it about processed food that is so bad for our hearts?

Sugar, oil, salt, and fat are often added to products to extend shelf life. Oils added are usually hydrogenated, which contains trans fats.

Trans fats are detrimental to our heart health. Consuming high amounts of these fats can increase our LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and lower our HDL (good) cholesterol levels. This can result in an increased risk of heart disease (2).

Eating a lot of processed food can also increase visceral fat accumulation. This is the type of fat that wraps around your abdominal organs and contributes to many health issues. 

Heart disease, obesity, and diabetes are all health risks associated with high amounts of visceral fat (3).

Not to mention, if we are consuming a lot of processed foods, we are reducing the number of whole foods we get in our diet.

A great trick for moderating our processed food intake is to focus on whole foods first. That way we don’t overeat processed foods and cut down on our ability to eat more nutritious options.

Although it is not realistic to switch to a diet that only allows for whole foods. Small changes in the diet can be impactful over time. Whether that looks like including one more fruit or vegetable per day or cutting down on sodas by half, it will make a difference.

Bottom Line

Processed foods can increase your risk of developing heart disease. It can also increase your risk of developing obesity, diabetes, and other health conditions.

Cutting down your risk can be as simple as a few changes in your diet. By focusing on whole foods instead, you can reduce your heart disease risk.

Save those junk food cravings for special occasions. Work towards filling your plate with fruits and vegetables instead. Your heart will thank you.

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