Heart disease is a devastating condition that kills well over half a million Americans every year. Depending upon your family history, lifestyle, and dietary choices you may be susceptible to the disease without even knowing it. Some of the warning signs are fairly obvious, we know that leading an inactive life, and consuming a poor diet can cause plaque to buildup in your veins and arteries that is a surefire sign of heart disease. But there are some less well-known culprits that you should keep your eye out for.
Here are some of the sneaky things you should look out for when designing a heart-healthy diet:

Hidden Salt
Salt is a mineral which is critical to our survival as human beings, but a little bit of salt goes a long way. Since the dawn of processed foods, salt has been used as a way to preserve foods from going bad. Back before refrigeration was widely available families would use salt to preserve meats because it draws water out of foods making it difficult for mold to grow. But these days, you can expect to find added salt in anything you buy that is jarred, canned, or packaged, not to mention the added salt you’re consuming in prepared meals in restaurants and at home. Excessive amounts of salt can raise blood pressure causing damage to your heart muscle and leading to heart disease.

Secret Sugar
Another thing you may be surprised to find in a wide variety of packaged foods is sugar. Added sugar can commonly be found in spaghetti sauce, jarred salsa, pickles, and more. And that doesn’t include the sugar you’re adding to your coffee, drinking sodas, and consuming in the form of sweet treats and even chewing gum. Sugar is everywhere, it is pervasive, and it is dangerous. There are many theories as to how added sugars negatively impact your heart health, but the connection is clear. Sugar consumption is directly related to diabetes which can cause heart disease.

Unknown Additives
The thing that should scare you about all the additives in highly processed foods is how much we don’t know about their effects on your heart health. It’s clear that adults who eat more processed foods are more likely to experience heart disease, and doctors believe this may be due to the fact that these foods are high in calories and low in nutrition, causing those who eat them to sustain heavier weight without absorbing any of the necessary nutrients.

We’ve been so inundated with inexpensive and easily accessible processed foods that we seem to have lost sight of what real food actually looks like. If you’d like to adjust your eating to include more whole foods and less processed foods, you may have to rethink your shopping habits. Opt for fresh or even frozen vegetables rather than canned, and always keep your eye on the additives. For more information about how you can change your lifestyle and diet to reduce your risk of heart disease, contact us today.