It’s not red meat or eggs that can make or break your heart health: It’s sugar and processed carbohydrates.
Processed carbs are found in packaged foods with added sugar, like soda, cakes, cookies, ice cream and pie. They’re also found in packaged foods containing high-fructose corn syrup, including white bread and regular pasta.
How Do Processed Carbs Affect Your Heart?
“Your body breaks them down quickly, which can cause a quick rise in your blood sugar,” says Jonathan Altschuler, MD, a cardiologist at AAMC. “This leads to a spike in insulin production. High insulin can lead to high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol, which can increase your chances of a stroke or heart disease.”
Dr. Altschuler recommends avoiding processed carbs as much as possible. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop eating the foods you love. You just need to make a few smart swaps. For example:
- Substitute brown rice and brown rice pasta for white rice and pasta.
- Choose multigrain or whole wheat bread instead of white bread.
- Focus your diet on fruits and vegetables as much as you can.
“There are many naturally sweet fruits you can add to your daily diet. And in terms of vegetables, you can really eat an unlimited amount,” Dr. Altschuler says.