What Are Unhealthy Foods For The Heart? – 13 You Did Not Think Of

When the question what are unhealthy foods for the heart is asked, we immediately think of the obvious ones like pastries, soda, junk food, and even salt. Unfortunately, there are so many more in our diets that we are probably unaware about.

Here are 13 of the less commonly known ones you need to avoid or consume in moderation. If you are looking for an unhealthy food list, then here it is!

Which Foods are Heart Healthy?

Foods considered to be heart-healthy contain nutrients that have been demonstrated to benefit the cardiovascular system or reduce the risk of developing heart disease. They function by

  • reducing levels of the  ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and blood triglycerides,
  • lowering blood pressure,
  • controlling weight and/or
  • improving insulin sensitivity

Coffee Related Unhealthy Food List for the Heart

Fancy Coffee Drinks

A Large Caramel Frappuccino -  What are Unhealthy Foods for the Heart
A Large Caramel Frappuccino

Are you a coffee lover that relishes your daily Grande cuppa or Frapuccino? You are in for a surprise about the high sugar and high content of many of these drinks!

For example, order a  Grande Blended Caramel Frappuccino from the menu, and you will find that it  may pack more carbohydrates than 4 ½ pieces of bread, without providing you the benefit of the added fiber in bread or any other nutritional value.

Guess what? If you then order this already loaded Frappuccino, with the whole milk option, the saturated fat level further greatly increases. Scary!!

It is safer to try the low-sugar drinks instead.

Are Coffee Creamers Healthy?

To further cut back on sugar,  drinking your coffee black is a better option. However, not everyone is as brave about drinking this! If you must add creamer, only add a sparing amount.

This is because they may contain trans fat or hydrogenated oil which increases the risk of developing plaque in the heart’s arteries.

Furthermore, some fat-free versions you pick up while buying your coffee may contain as much as 65 calories in two tablespoons, thereby crashing your reduced sugar agenda. (Dr Juan Rivera) https://drjuan.net/

What are Unhealthy Foods for the Heart? – Think Processed Deli Meats

Nitrates may increase internal inflammation, while chronic inflammation is directly linked to the development of atherosclerosis –  the stiffening or narrowing of the arteries.

It is best to avoid the deli altogether if you can because of the very high salt content, because even the lower-fat versions of processed deli meats contain the preservative sodium nitrate.



A Bottle of Ketchup - What are Unhealthy Foods for the Heart
A Bottle of Ketchup

Many store-purchased condiments like ketchup are loaded with added sugar and sodium and may make you shudder like when asking “are coffee creamers healthy?

Two tablespoons of ketchup contain eight grams of sugar in this serving. It also packs 320 milligrams of sodium which approximates 14 percent of your daily suggested limit of 2,300 milligrams, recommended by the American Heart Association.

Barbecue Sauce

Just like ketchup, it is recommended that you either avoid the use of, or use barbecue sauce very sparingly because most of them have high levels of sodium.  

The average barbecue sauce has about 320 milligrams of sodium in about 2 tablespoons. There are however certain brands with slightly less sodium and added sugars. Read the food label when purchasing.


What are Unhealthy Foods for the Heart – Reduced-Fat Salad Dressings Join the List

Reduced-fat salad dressings provide a false sense pf “eating healthy” because they harbor hidden sources of sugar and salt.

When fat is removed, sugar is typically added to maintain the taste and texture.  Look beyond macronutrients. Even when macros fare at the exact levels typically recommended for fat, carbohydrates and proteins, a diet can still fall short on nutrition.

You should read the label to consider whether the carbohydrate sources are highly processed and low in fiber. Check if the fat is heart -healthy and whether the protein is lean (Taylor, M 2022). If you find that they are not, then look for another dressing to buy!

What are Unhealthy Foods for the Heart? – Fat-Free Packaged Snacks are Included

Fat-free packaged foods were once promoted  as a healthy option for individuals wanting to lose weight and maintain a healthier lifestyle.  This is no longer true. One thing you must know is that  unnaturally zero-fat is worse than reduced-fat.

The recommendation is that you avoid any product that is not normally fat-free. Keep in mind the golden rule that what it does not have in fats is usually compensated for with added sugar. Always check the food labels.

Not all fats are bad. Many types of natural fats are healthy and promote satiety, which in the long run can reduce cravings and overeating.

Sugary Cereal

A Bowl of Multicolored Sugar Coated Cheerios Cereal - What are Unhealthy Foods for the Heart
A Bowl of Multicolored Sugar Coated Cheerios

For convenience, sugar coated cereal may sound like a great option, but is it really? Does it have more than eight grams of sugar per serving to make up for its low-fat level? If it does, then drop it!

Most experts are in agreement that a diet high in added sugar may be just as serious a threat that can contribute to obesity, inflammation, high cholesterol and diabetes—all of which are risk factors for heart disease.

Canned Foods

Canned Soup

The average canned soup contains at least 600 milligrams of sodium per cup and sodium levels can vary quite widely. If you then add other salty ingredients, you can very easily exceed more than one-third of your daily sodium limit in one serving!

Because canned soups are extremely high in sodium, this can significantly adversely affect the condition of someone with heart disease by increasing blood pressure and can cause heart failure.

Canned Vegetables

Read the food labels before you buy! Many of us do not do this!

Some canned vegetable products are packaged with excess added sodium. The remedy to this is a lot simpler than for canned soups. Simply strain and rinse the vegetables under  running water.  This helps to get rid of the some of the excess sodium.

Not all canned vegetables are packed with excess salt, and some are a great addition to meals!

What are Unhealthy Foods? – Think Drinks and Beverages

Sports drinks

The best healthy drink is water. Are you surprised?

On a normal day, the body of an average person can replace depleted electrolytes and muscle glycogen even in the absence of a workout.

However, if you are training or exercising you tend to lose more electrolytes. Interestingly, average person can replenish such  electrolytes and muscle glycogen. if provided with a small meal and water after the workout.

The American Heart Association recommends a daily sugar intake of no more than six teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons for men.

Sticking to water means you avoid all the sugar found in sports drinks. For example, some sports drinks can contain up to eight and a half teaspoons of sugar (34 grams)

Energy Drinks

Energy drinks are also often loaded not only with sugar but also with caffeine that can cause undue stress to your heart. A 16-ounce energy drink can elevate blood pressure and stress hormones and could predispose an increased risk of cardiac events—even in healthy people (Mayo Clinic, 2015).

Diet Soda

A swap of regular soda with diet soda may be a good swap you would think, but artificially sweetened sodas may not be the solution. Why?

This is because people often make up for it by eating more at the next meal. Some even drink more than one can of diet soda at  sitting just because it is “diet soda”.

Furthermore, research by Azad et al (2017), published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests that the chemicals in diet soda and the artificial sweeteners can alter gastrointestinal bacteria which can make people more prone to gaining weight.

Conclusion – Unhealthy Food List For the Heart

What are unhealthy foods for the heart? There is quite a long list of some of the common ones we already know, but the little thought about ones are addressed in this article. Always read the food labels and choose wisely!

Related Articles


1.Starbucks Website Menu https://www.starbucks.com/menu/product/424/iced?parent=%2Fdrinks%2Ffrappuccino-blended-beverages%2Fcoffee-frappuccino

2. Dr Juan Rivera: Author and Internist of the Mojito Diet https://drjuan.net/

3. Taylor MG (2022) How to Start Counting Macros for Weight Loss, According to Dietitians https://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/diets/a19804935/macros-diet/

4. American Heart Association https://www.heart.org

5. Klein, T (2015) Mayo Clinic study: One energy drink may increase heart disease risk in young adults https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-study-one-energy-drink-may-increase-heart-disease-risk-in-young-adults/

6. Azad, M.B et al (2017) Nonnutritive sweeteners and cardiometabolic health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies CMAJ July 17, 2017 189 (28) E929-E939 https://www.cmaj.ca/content/189/28/E929

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