Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimating that about 610,000 people die from the condition each year.1 While there are many risk factors for heart disease, one of the most common is the consumption of unhealthy foods. One of the most dangerous of these foods is the “side dish” that causes heart attacks.
What is the “Side Dish” That Causes Heart Attacks?
The “side dish” that causes heart attacks is a combination of high-saturated and trans fats, refined carbohydrates, and salt. This combination can raise cholesterol and triglyceride levels, increasing the risk of having a heart attack.2 This type of dish is found in many restaurants and grocery stores, often labeled as “comfort foods,” such as French fries, fried chicken, and macaroni and cheese.
How Can the “Side Dish” That Causes Heart Attacks Be Avoided?
The best way to avoid the “side dish” that causes heart attacks is to limit your consumption of saturated and trans fats, refined carbohydrates, and salt. This may mean avoiding certain foods altogether, or simply reducing the amount of these ingredients in your diet.
Replacing Unhealthy Foods with Healthy Alternatives
The key to avoiding the “side dish” that causes heart attacks is to replace unhealthy foods with healthier alternatives. This can include switching out white bread and pasta for whole grain options, replacing fried foods with baked or grilled options, and choosing lean proteins such as fish, poultry, and beans instead of red meat.3 In addition, adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet can provide essential vitamins and minerals while helping to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Reducing Sodium Intake
Another important step in avoiding the “side dish” that causes heart attacks is reducing your sodium intake. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, and for those with high blood pressure, no more than 1,500 milligrams per day.4 Reducing your sodium intake can be as simple as avoiding processed foods and condiments, such as canned soups, sauces, and dressings, as well as reducing your intake of salt-heavy snacks such as potato chips and pretzels.
Making Healthy Swaps When Eating Out
When eating out, it can be difficult to avoid the “side dish” that causes heart attacks. However, there are still some healthy swaps you can make to reduce your risk. For example, instead of the typical French fries or onion rings, opt for a side salad or steamed vegetables.5 You can also ask for your meal to be prepared without added fats or oils, or substitute a lower-calorie drink such as water or unsweetened iced tea.
The “side dish” that causes heart attacks is a combination of unhealthy fats, refined carbohydrates, and salt. While it is easy to find these foods in restaurants and grocery stores, the best way to avoid them is to reduce your intake of saturated and trans fats, refined carbohydrates, and salt. You can also make healthier choices when eating out by swapping out unhealthy side dishes for healthier alternatives, such as salads and steamed vegetables. By making these simple changes, you can reduce your risk of heart disease and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.