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What you eat can help your heart. "Heart-healthy foods contain nutrients that benefit the cardiovascular system or reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering 'bad' LDL cholesterol and blood triglycerides, reducing blood pressure, controlling weight, and/or improving insulin sensitivity," says Rania Batayneh, MPH, owner of Essential Nutrition For You and author of The One One One Diet.

No deli. Suzanne Fisher, RD, LDN, founder of Fisher Nutrition Systems in Florida, says even low-fat cured lunch meats contain sodium nitrate.Nitrates may increase internal inflammation, and "chronic inflammation is linked to atherosclerosis," she says.

Processed deli meats

Hot dogs and sausages contain saturated fat. Even low-fat foods are salty. More dietary sodium can raise blood pressure, says Batayneh.

Hot dogs

Same goes for supermarket roasted birds; if you purchase them fully seasoned and with the skin on, they typically contain significantly more sodium and saturated fat than your typical home-cooked poultry.

Rotisserie chicken

Many store-bought condiments are loaded with added sugar and/or sodium, so you may want to rethink your condiment strategy.


In related condiment news, it is healthier for your heart to avoid (or use sparingly) barbecue sauce. Approximately 310 milligrammes of sodium are present in two tablespoons of a typical bottle variety. Better yet, make your own and season to taste.

Barbecue sauce

Seventy percent of our sodium intake is derived from packaged and restaurant foods. The remaining 15% occurs naturally in ingredients. The remaining 15 percent or so of sodium, however, is entirely under our control, whether through the salt shaker on the table or spoonfuls added to recipes.

table salt

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