(Natural News) Heart disease is caused by problems related to the arteries. The narrowing or blockage of these blood vessels, which deliver blood to and from the heart, can cause significant damage and result in heart attack, chest pain, or stroke. Because the cholesterol that builds up along the walls of the arteries comes mostly from food, an unhealthy diet can be considered a main contributor to heart disease. If you wish to avoid developing heart problems that can significantly affect your life, knowing which foods to eat and which foods to avoid is a crucial step. (Related: Start your journey to a heart-healthy lifestyle with Natural News’ new book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease and Cardio-related Events.)
Risk factors influenced by diet
Some risk factors for heart disease are heavily influenced – or caused – by an unhealthy diet. These risk factors, which are linked to cholesterol buildup in the arteries, include:
High blood pressure
Blood pressure is the force that enables blood to flow through the veins and deliver oxygen and nutrients to different parts of the body. But when blood pressure is too high, it strains blood vessel walls and eventually causes damage. High blood pressure or hypertension can lead to heart failure, aortic aneurysm, kidney disease, and other life-threatening conditions.
Certain foods can increase blood pressure. For instance, salty foods elevate blood pressure due to the high amount of sodium they contain. When you consume too much sodium, your body responds by holding extra water to maintain balance and flush excess sodium out of your system. This can lead to increased blood pressure and put stress on your heart and blood vessels. Persistent high blood pressure can cause your arteries to narrow and overwork your heart, increasing your risk of heart enlargement and heart failure. (Related: To know what other foods can increase blood pressure, read Natural News’ latest book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease and Cardio-related Events.)
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Having too much body fat can also increase your risk of heart disease. This condition, known as obesity, is caused by having a high-fat diet and very little to no physical activity. This imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure favors the formation and storage of fat in the belly, which studies link to a higher chance of developing diabetes and heart disease.
According to one study, obese individuals have more heart lesions associated with atherosclerosis than those with healthy weight. Stored fat in the belly tends to release free fatty acids, which increase the production of very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL). VLDL is considered an even worse type of cholesterol than low-density lipoprotein (LDL) because it contributes to cholesterol buildup in the arteries. Obese individuals also have a greater risk of heart failure. (Related: A healthy diet can prevent obesity and obesity-related heart diseases. Learn the best diet to adopt to support your heart health from Natural News’ new book.)
The type of fat in your diet
Fat is a major source of energy for the body. It also helps with the absorption of vitamins and minerals from food. However, there are different types of fat present in food, and not all of them are good for the health. Bad dietary fats, also known as trans fats, are byproducts of a process that converts healthy oils into solids for food preservation. Trans fats do not offer any health benefits; instead, they increase the amount of bad cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol in the blood.
Trans fats are known to cause inflammation. Studies link the consumption of trans fats to the activation of inflammatory responses, which can lead to coronary heart disease, diabetes, and even sudden death. Trans fats also contribute to blood vessel dysfunction and insulin resistance. According to research, insulin resistance is directly linked to risk factors for heart disease, such as dyslipidemia (abnormal levels of triglycerides and cholesterol), hypertension, obesity, and atherosclerosis.
Food is an important source of nutrition, but at the same time, it can contribute to the development of diseases. While avoiding unhealthy foods is helpful, it is just the first step. Learn how to adopt a heart-healthy diet and live a healthy lifestyle from Natural News’ new book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease and Cardio-related Events, so you can fully protect yourself from heart disease and other related conditions.