When it comes to foods which cause plaque buildup in the arteries, you’ve most likely heard that “what you eat can greatly affect your cardiovascular health.” However, to know which foods to choose… and which to skip (to achieve your health goals) can be downright challenging. Fear not, heart-healthy eating does not have to be complex. In this article you can find out how to avoid foods which can lead to plaque buildup, so that you can fill your plate with much healthier alternatives.
The Magical Power of Food
Some foodstuff can cause your body to produce too much of the waxy substance known as cholesterol. Cholesterol can combine with body fat, calcium, and other substances in the blood to form plaque. This makes it possible for plaque to slowly build up and harden in the arteries, causing them to narrow. This buildup is a condition called atherosclerosis, which is the leading cause for heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke.
Since prevention is better than healing, focusing on diet and healthy foods is of utmost importance. The right diet can stop and potentially even reverse the narrowing of the arteries. Leading experts established that foods which contribute to high levels of blood cholesterol contains an excess of saturated fat, trans-fat, and dietary cholesterol. This article is an attempt to reveal harmful foods, so that you can keep in a healthier shape.
Saturated Fat (consists of triglycerides containing only saturated fatty acids)
Saturated fat is the main cause for plaque buildup in the arteries. Consequently, experts suggest that one should try to keep saturated fat intake to less than 7% of total daily calories. The primary sources of saturated fat are animal products, and certain oils are high in saturated fat as well. Here are some examples of foods high in saturated fat:
- Whole milk and cream
- High-fat cheese
- High-fat cuts of meat, such as those that look “marbled” with fat
- Processed meats, including sausage, hot dogs, salami and bologna
- Ice cream
- Palm and coconut oils, which are often added to packaged and prepared foods, such as cookies and doughnuts
To reduce saturated fat intake:
- Choose leaner cuts of meat over high-fat meat. Lean beef cuts include the round, chuck, sirloin, or loin. Lean pork cuts include tenderloin or loin chops. Trim visible fat before cooking.
- Remove skin from turkey or chicken before cooking.
- Choose 1% or fat-free milk over higher fat milk.
- When reheating soups, skim the solid fat off the top first.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are low in saturated fat.
Trans Fat (Unsaturated Fat)
Trans fat is usually found in foods that contain partially hydrogenated oil. This develops when hydrogen is added to liquid oil, turning it into solid fat. Trans fat is predominantly found in processed food, and in restaurants as well, because it improves taste and texture and also prolongs the shelf life of food. Leading Health Experts recommend trying to consume as little trans fat as possible at all time.
Fortunately, not all processed foods contain trans fat. And more and more food manufacturers and restaurant owners have taken note and are beginning to cut back on trans fat. Still, some of the biggest contributors of trans fat in our diet include fried foods and fast foods, microwave popcorn and other savory snacks, frozen pizza, margarine, cake, cookies, and more.
To Avoid Trans Fat:
- Always read the nutrition label before buying packaged or processed food. Look for 0 grams of trans fat. Also, scan the ingredient list. If the words “partially hydrogenated” appear anywhere, skip the product. Because products containing less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving can be labeled as trans fat-free, the only way to tell for sure is to check the ingredients.
- Seek out restaurants that have chosen not to use partially hydrogenated oils in their cooking.
- Order foods steamed, baked, broiled or grilled over fried whenever possible.
- Try to eat less processed food.
Although fats in your diet are the biggest contributors to high LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, dietary cholesterol matters, too. Cholesterol is found only in animal products, such as eggs, meat, and cheese. Experts recommend aiming for less than 200 mg of cholesterol in your food each day.
To reduce your dietary cholesterol:
- Read food labels whenever possible. Choose products that are low in cholesterol, as well as in saturated fat and trans fat.
- Avoid liver meat, which is very high in cholesterol.
- Substitute egg whites for whole eggs. The cholesterol in eggs is all in the yolk.
Although it may not be possible to eat a perfect diet all the time, but what really counts are the good choices you make most of the time. Always try your best to avoid foods that can lead to plaque buildup. Additionally, be sure to make other heart-healthy lifestyle choices, such as not smoking, excess alcohol consumption, and exercising regularly. If you can master this discipline, it will not only have a profound impact on your cardiovascular health, but improve your overall well being as well.
- Food that contributes to high levels of blood cholesterol contains too much saturated fat, trans fat, and dietary cholesterol.
- Saturated fat is a main culprit in plaque buildup. It’s found in foods like whole milk, high-fat cheese, ice cream, sausage, and hot dogs
- Trans fat is found in fried foods and fast foods, frozen pizza, margarine, cake, cookies, and more.
- Dietary cholesterol is found only in animal products, such as eggs, meat, and cheese.