- Trans-fats. Found in most margarines, snack foods, processed foods and some cooking oils, these fats (often listed on food labels as “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oil) can reduce the protective HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels and raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. Also, avoid heated polyunsaturated fats, such as soybean oil used for deep-frying. These fats are oxidized or damaged; regular consumption may have a variety of negative health effects.
- Animal protein. Excessive animal protein has been shown to raise levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that in high concentrations may contribute to heart disease. Instead of animal protein, try whole soy protein – aim for two servings of whole organic soy, such as tofu or edamame, per day.
- Refined carbohydrates. Cookies, cakes, crackers, soft breads, chips and sodas can increase triglyceride levels and lower HDL. These foods in the diet also drive up the inflammatory hormone insulin, which in excess contributes to heart disease beyond your cholesterol levels.
- Sodium. Excessive sodium has been linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. The main sources of sodium intake are breads, processed and canned foods, along with restaurant fare. Adding a dash of salt to your homemade meals is negligible in comparison and may help provide enhanced flavor to keep you eating more at home.