Cardiologists Agree: This Is The One Processed Food You Should Stop Buying Immediately

November 15, 2021 by Olivia Avitt
shefinds | Fitness

Heart-related disease is one of the most common health issues in the United States. Not only is heart disease the leading cause of death for American women, but one person dies every 36 seconds from cardiovascular disease. Part of this can be attributed to the SAD (Standard American Diet), which is full of preservatives, sugar, and deep fried foods. Your diet and exercise routine are both direct players in your heart health, so it’s important to get regular movement and eat nutritious foods. 


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It’s also important to be aware of what foods aren’t the best to eat if you’re at risk for heart-related health issues, or want to be proactive with your health. We asked Dr. Raed Bargout, a cardiologist at Dignity Health-Glendale Memorial Hospital in Glendale, California, what foods you should cut back on if you want to invest in your heart health. 

Processed foods are some of the worst you can eat if you want a healthy heart. This is because many processed foods are high in saturated fats. “Food that is rich in saturated fat, mainly found in red meats, dairy products, and industrial partially hydrogenated products,  increases total cholesterol, LDL, and lipoprotein (Lp)a,” Dr. Bargout says. Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood that is needed for building healthy cells, but if you have too much of it, it could affect the blood's ability to pump through your body. 

Eating foods rich in saturated fats could elevate your cholesterol to unhealthy amounts. “Multiple studies have linked the consumption of these foods to adverse cardiovascular outcomes.” If you want to avoid this, one tip Dr. Bargout recommends is to look for the words “partially hydrogenated” on ingredient labels—if you see it anywhere, you should avoid the food. It is most common in  baked goods, cookies, cakes, and deep-fried food.

So what is the worst processed food for elevating cholesterol levels and putting your healthy heart in jeopardy? According to Dr. Bargout, deli meats are the culprit. “Processed deli meat is on the top of the list for food that can increase the risk of cardiovascular events including heart attacks and stroke.” This includes hot dogs and sausages, which are high in saturated fat and sodium. A good rule of thumb is cooking the meat you include on sandwiches yourself, and making sure the meat products you buy don’t have long lists of ingredients, or added dyes and preservatives. 

When cutting out processed foods, it is also important to remember to add healthy, nutritious foods that promote cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of disease. These include fiber, monounsaturated fats (like olive oil, nuts, and natural nut butter), and fruits and vegetables. Another type of food that is good for your heart is anything rich in omega-3 fatty acids—this includes fish and plant sources, but you can also get it through supplements if you don’t get  enough of it in your diet. All of this should be balanced with regular physical activity, as diet and exercise are the two main lifestyle changes that can reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular issues in the future. 

Author: Olivia Avitt

Olivia is a writer+content creator that has written about a wide range of subjects including health, beauty, relationships, culture, and music. When she's not working, you can find her perusing coffee shops, reading predictable romance novels, or catching up on reality TV. You can reach her via email at

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