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4 Drinking Habits to Avoid if You Have Heart Disease

Choose a better beverage to protect your heart health.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That's some stat! What you eat certainly plays a role and eating the right foods can help decrease your risk. However, most folks forget that beverages you consume also play a role in increasing or decreasing your risk of heart disease.

Below are four drinking habits to avoid if you have heart disease, along with what you can sip on instead.

Drinking too much alcohol

Sad woman drinking wine at kitchen.

Consuming too much alcohol can raise blood pressure levels and increase the risk for heart disease. It can also increase your levels of triglycerides, a fatty substance found in the blood that, when elevated, can increase your risk for heart disease as well.

Instead: According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, if you choose to drink alcohol then men should consume no more than 2 drinks per day and women should consume no more than one drink per day. One drink is defined as 12 fluid ounces of beer, 5 fluid ounces of wine, and 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits like rum or vodka.

Drinking too many high-calorie smoothies and shakes

bottled smoothies

Smoothies and shakes can certainly be part of a healthy diet but adding too many high-calorie ingredients can make these seemingly healthy beverages calorie bombs. One risk factor for heart disease is being overweight or obese, so drinking 600- or 800-calorie smoothies or shakes regularly can certainly increase your risk of packing on the pounds.

Instead: Be mindful of the size of your smoothie or shake (usually 12 fluid ounces is a good size). Add lower calorie ingredients like spinach, fruit, and low or nonfat milk and if you choose higher fat ingredients like nut butters or avocado, use small portions.

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Drinking too much coconut beverage

coconut oil and fresh coconuts

If you like to sip on coconut beverage (AKA coconut milk) or add it to your coffee or dishes, you can increase your risk of heart disease. According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, coconut (like in oil or as a beverage) is considered a saturated fat which has been shown to increase LDL "bad" cholesterol levels.

Instead: Opt for skim or low-fat milk or a variety of plant-based beverages like almond, oat, and rice that do not contain much saturated fat, if any.

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Drinking too many canned veggie drinks

holding a green smoothie with a straw

Many canned veggie drinks (think tomato juice) provide a fair share of sodium. According to the CDC, too much sodium (salt) can increase blood pressure and increase your risk for heart disease.

Instead: Choose low sodium 100% vegetable juices that count towards your daily vegetable intake and be mindful of how much your drink.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, MS, RD, CDN
Toby Amidor is an award winning dietitian and Wall Street Journal best-selling cookbook author who believes healthy and wholesome can also be appetizing and delicious. Read more about Toby