Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, according to the Heart Foundation. It claims more lives than all types of cancer combined. In the U.S., someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds.
With statistics like these, everyone should be worried about heart health, even people that currently do not have any issues with it. A poor diet is one of the leading contributors to heart disease, other than genetics. It is also something that is incredibly easy to control.
You probably know that deep dish pepperoni pizza and juicy burgers covered with cheddar cheese are bad for your heart. But, what you probably don’t realize is that there are many seemingly healthy foods that you should never let pass your lips if you care about your heart. Here are 15 healthy snacks that should be booted out of your diet immediately.
1. Snap Pea Crisps
Snap Pea Crisps – http://www.harvestsnaps.com
These delicious snacks come in a green bag and are usually found in the produce section of the grocery store. It might say things like “made from whole green peas” and “good source of fiber” on the bag. While both of these things are true, what it doesn’t say is that these are processed, packaged peas that are combined with corn, oil, salt, and flavor. The second ingredient listed on Harvest Snaps “Snapea Crisps” snacks is vegetable oil. Vegetable oils contain very high levels of polyunsaturated fats, which are bad for the heart. Research in the Canadian Medical Association Journal says that too much polyunsaturated fat increases the likelihood of death from coronary artery disease. Skip the processed, packaged snap peas and choose fresh ones instead.
Smoothies – http://del.h-cdn.co/
What could be heart healthier than fruit? While you might think that a fruit smoothie sounds like the perfect, healthy afternoon snack, many are bad for your heart because they pack a lot of fat and sodium. The Shredder Vanilla smoothie from Smoothie King packs a whopping 592 mg of salt into just one drink. According to the American Heart Association, most adults should consume no more than 1500 mg a day of salt. So, the Shredder Vanilla Smoothie has 1/3 of your recommended salt intake for the day. Skip the smoothie and go for a piece of fresh fruit instead.
3. Bran Muffin
Bran Muffin – https://a.dilcdn.com/
While bran muffins might seem like a healthy breakfast choice to support your heart health, they are not. Most bran muffins sold in restaurants and stores are full of sugar. Getting too much sugar in your diet significantly increases your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Not only do these muffins have lots of sugar, but they usually have refined flour, salt, and oil—all of which are bad for the heart in excess.
4. Canned Vegetables
Canned Vegetables – https://cimg3.ibsrv.net
Vegetables may be the foundation of a heart-healthy diet— but not the ones that come in a can. These are loaded with preservatives and salt to keep them from spoiling. So, skip the canned vegetables and go with fresh instead. If that is not an option, frozen vegetables would be a better alternative to canned. Skip the frozen vegetables that come in butter or cheese sauce. These are also high in salt.
5. Dried Fruit
Dried Fruit – https://cimg0.ibsrv.net/
Dried fruit is another snack that seems healthy but isn’t. Most dried fruits contain a lot of added sugar. You might as well just eat a handful of candy. One cup of fresh apricots has 15 grams of sugar whereas there are 69 grams of sugar in one cup of dried apricots. The best option is definitely to go with fresh fruit when you crave a snack.
6. Vegetable Chips
Vegetable Chips – http://media.npr.org/
You might think veggie chips are a dream comes true when it comes to the perfect snack. They are touted as a healthy alternative to potato chips but are they any healthier and better for your heart? The answer is no. Some brands of vegetable chips contain even more sodium than potato chips. One serving of Costco brand’s Garden Veggie Chips has 210 mg of sodium. One serving of Lay’s Wavy potato chips only has 140 mg of sodium. It is best to just snack on the potato chips in this case.
7. Microwave Popcorn
Microwave Popcorn – http://a57.foxnews.com/
Microwave popcorn is often laden with salt and butter. Also, the butter flavoring that it contains has a chemical that has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. So, not only is microwave popcorn not good for your heart but it is not good for your brain either. If you are craving popcorn, then make it on the stovetop. Made on the stovetop, without added salt and butter, popcorn is a whole-grain snack that is good for your heart. Not only that, but it can also help ward off blood sugar fluctuations that can leave you feeling hungry quickly.
8. Trail Mix
Trail Mix – https://nuts.com
Packaged trail mix is another snack that poses as healthy but is anything but good for you. For starters, it has dried fruit, which has lots of sugar added to them. Then, it is mixed with nuts and lots of salt. Instead of packaged trail mix, go for a handful of unsalted almonds or walnuts. If you want trail mix, you can make your own with unsalted nuts and homemade dried fruit. Making your own dried fruit is easy. Simply wash and cut up fresh fruits into very thin slices. Soak the fruit in water and lemon for ten seconds and then bake it in the oven at 160-degrees until it is dry. It might take a couple of hours to dry out completely. Add the fruit to the nuts, and you have a homemade trail mix. This is an excellent—and heart-healthy way to enjoy this tasty snack.
9. Nutri-Grain Bars
Nutri-Grain Bars – http://www.hellowonderful.co
With names like “Fruit & Oat” and pictures of strawberries on the front of the box, Nutri-Grain bars seem pretty healthy on the surface. However, they are the ultimate health food imposter. These cereal bars are packed with preservatives, sugars and soybean oil. Also, since they are so good, it’s hard to eat just one. Eat a couple of these a day, and you will see how easy it is to add lots of calories, salt, and sugar to your diet.
Hummus is made of chickpeas, which is actually very good for you. The problem with hummus is that it often contains a good amount of canola or soybean oil. Sabra hummus contains 130 mg of salt, and that is just for a two tablespoon serving. Also, it has five grams of fat. The soybean oil adds polyunsaturated fats, which has been connected to increased risk of heart disease.
11. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower Seeds – http://assets.simplyrecipes.com
You have probably heard that nuts are packed with heart-healthy proteins, fats, and minerals. However, what you might not know is that many have a lot of added salt. Sunflower seeds have a lot of fat naturally, but they are fine in small quantities if they are raw. The problem is that most sunflower seeds are salted. You are better off opting for a package of unsalted pumpkin seeds. This can reduce the sodium by as much as 90 percent.
12. Canned Vegetable Juice
Canned Vegetable Juice – http://assets.inhabitat.com
Many people believe that V8 and other canned vegetable juice is an excellent alternative to fresh veggies. But, they are not. Most are brimming with salt. Even the low-sodium kind is pasteurized and reconstituted, which can take away some of the heart-healthy benefits of fresh vegetables. Instead of drinking canned vegetable juices, make your own at home.
13. Turkey Jerky
Turkey Jerky – http://www.tcsjerky.com
Turkey jerky is popular right now. It is being marketed as the perfect high-protein snack. It is especially popular with people that are on a Paleo diet. Turkey jerky does contain high levels of protein, which has been shown to help prevent heart disease. The problem is that this savory snack usually has high levels of nitrates and preservatives which add a lot of sodium. If you are craving turkey jerky, you can get the heart-healthy benefits of the snack by going for a lower sodium version that has no added preservatives, nitrates or artificial ingredients.
14. Diet Soda
Diet Soda – http://s.eatthis-cdn.com
Many people gave up regular soda in favor of diet soda. Diet sodas have zero calories, so people naturally assume that they are healthy, which is not the case. Researchers have found that artificially sweetened drinks increase a person’s chance of having a stroke. Research in the journal Stroke, which is published by the American Heart Association, found that drinking soda just once a day increases the risk of stroke. Substitute your soda for water, and you will cut your heart attack risk. Research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that participants who drank five glasses of water each day lowered their risk of heart attack by nearly half.
15. Cottage Cheese
Cottage Cheese – https://images.eatthismuch.com/
Cottage cheese and fruit has long been considered to be a healthy snack. However, cottage cheese conceals a nasty surprise—almost a day’s worth of sodium in just one serving. One cup of cottage cheese has approximately 1,000 mg of sodium. This is nearly 70 percent of your daily sodium. Cottage cheese is high in calcium, protein, and minerals. So, try choosing a little or no salt added cottage cheese and pair it with some fruit for a heart-healthy alternative. You can also substitute Greek yogurt instead. It is packed with protein, and most varieties of Greek yogurt are low in sodium.