Along with many other factors such as your activity level and blood pressure, your diet plays a major role in your cardiovascular health. While cooking for yourself at home using whole foods that are packed with nutrients and rich in antioxidants is always the best way to keep your heart healthy, you may not always be able to do it—in fact, you may sometimes find yourself craving a fast food restaurant. It probably goes without saying that this isn’t the healthiest option out there, but there are a few menu items in particular that health experts say you should steer clear of if you care about your heart — including one fried and cheesy option.
To find out the worst side of junk food that you should avoid while driving to keep your heart healthy, we spoke to cardiologist Anjali Dutta, MD, FACC of Morristown Medical Center in Atlantic Health System. You told us you should skip a file Fried cheese curd Because of its high sodium content. Learn more about the health risks associated with this aspect and find some tips for healthy alternatives below!
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Fried cheese curd
No one thinks of “health” when they think of “junk food”. However, there are some options that are definitely worse than others when it comes to heart health — and as far as sides are concerned, Dr. Dutta says it doesn’t get any worse than some delicious fried cheeseburger. “Probably the most dangerous type of junk food for your heart,” she says, “fried cheese curds.”
This is the case for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest problems with fried cheese curds (along with many other fast food menu items) is the fact that they’re loaded with salt. “Due to the fact that fast-food dishes are usually high in sodium to begin with, high-sodium sides, such as french fries, should not be eaten frequently,” explains Dr. Dutta. The cheese curds, in particular, deliver up to 1,000mg of sodium in just one order — and that’s just average! Considering the fact that the recommended daily intake is 1,500, a large amount of cheese curds (sometimes containing as much as 2,100 mg of sodium) could easily put you over your limit. “The high sodium content mixed with additional saturated fat is the perfect storm of cardiovascular disease risk,” she warns.
In fact, Dr. Dutta says cheese curds may knock every junk food menu item out of the park when it comes to heart health risks, noting that their sodium content can make them “not only the most unhealthy side dish, but also the healthiest dish.” Unhealthy on the whole menu.” Yikes!
So what will all that salt and fat do to your heart, after all? Dr. Dutta explains it for us: “It has been scientifically proven that constant and excessive sodium intake affects blood pressure.” “When someone has too much sodium in their bloodstream, their blood vessels absorb more water, which can cause high blood pressure.” This puts you at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and more.
What do you order instead
Let’s be honest: sometimes you’ll find yourself in a situation that calls for a quick stop at the drive-thru fast food. So if you’re looking to get your heart healthy, what should you order? Hopefully by now it’s clear you should skip the cheese curds — but Dr. Dutta says there are still options. “In fact, many fast food restaurants offer heart-healthy side options,” she says. “One of the most heart-healthy foods a person can consume are ‘leafy greens’ (lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.).” As long as you choose a salad without high-fat toppings like a creamy dressing or lots of bacon, you’ll be making a healthy choice when you order a salad. And if that’s not an option, eating a side of fruit is another great way to go.
Of course, junk food won’t be the healthiest thing you can eat — and if you’re really craving a salty side, a few cheese curds won’t kill you. However, if you’re trying to keep your heart health in check, remember that making healthy diet choices whenever possible is always the best way to go.