Foods that contribute to heart disease and increase heart attack risk

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One of the leading contributing factors for heart disease is high cholesterol, which is mainly caused by eating fatty food, the NHS certifies.

Heart UK, the cholesterol charity, says eating foods that contain too much saturated fat “changes the way the liver handles cholesterol”.

The charity explains: “Our liver cells have LDL [low-density lipoprotein] receptors on them.

“When LDL cholesterol passes by in the blood, these receptors take the cholesterol out of the blood and into the liver to be broken down.

“Research suggests that eating too much saturated fat stops the receptors from working so well, and cholesterol builds up in the blood.”

Foods high in saturated fat, which you are better off limiting, include:

  • Milk and white chocolate, toffee, cakes, puddings and biscuits
  • Pastries and pies
  • Fatty meat, such as lamb chops
  • Processed meat, such as sausages, burgers, bacon and kebabs
  • Butter, lard, ghee, dripping, margarine, goose fat and suet
  • Coconut and palm oils and coconut cream
  • Full-fat dairy products such as cream, milk, yoghurt, crème fraiche and cheese.

Heart UK adds: “Many foods contain a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fats. Try to choose foods with more unsaturated fat.”

Considered to be “heart-healthy”, unsaturated fats outweighing saturated fats in your diet could decrease heart disease and heart attack risk.

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Examples of unsaturated fats include:

  • Oils from vegetables, nuts and seeds, such as sunflower, safflower, rapeseed, olive, peanut, walnut and corn oil
  • Spreads based on these oils
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Avocado
  • Oily fish such as herring, pilchards, mackerel, salmon and trout.

There’s another type of fat people need to cautious of, in addition to saturated fat.

The other type of fat that could raise cholesterol levels and heart disease risk is trans fats.

Heart UK says: “Trans fats are made when unsaturated fats such as vegetable oils are heated to high temperatures during food processing.

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“Trans fats are sometimes present in pastries, cakes, biscuits, crackers, fried foods, takeaways and hard margarines.

“Look out for the words ‘partially hydrogenated fat’ on the label as they contain trans fats and avoid these as much as possible.”

By eating a healthier diet, as well as engaging in physical activity, you can reduce your heart disease and heart attack risk.

Leading a healthy lifestyle is one of the best defences against disease and life-threatening conditions.

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