Skip to content

What Science Says About the Eating Habits That Lead to Heart Disease

Studies agree that maintaining a balanced diet is key for having a healthy heart.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Heart disease is a growing problem. According to the International Journal of Molecular Science, heart disease is the number one leading cause of death in western countries and represents a whopping 30% of all deaths in the world.

Your risk of heart disease has many contributing factors, like genetics, age, the amount of movement you get on a daily basis, and your diet, with many researchers believing that diet is the number one way to prevent these diseases. But how exactly do food and your daily diet impact your heart health and risk of disease?

Read on to learn what the research says about eating habits that can contribute to heart disease. And for more healthy eating tips check out 6 Worst Snacks for High Blood Pressure.

How food affects your heart

eating salad

There are a number of ways your daily eating habits can contribute to heart disease. To understand these better, it's best to look at the common issues connected to heart disease. For example, according to research from Education in Heart, having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic inflammation, and being considered "obese" are all things that commonly lead to disease and can also be heavily impacted by your diet.

Harmful eating habits for heart disease

The American Heart Association recently released its most up-to-date list of guidelines for maintaining a healthy heart. While every person has their own unique needs, these research-based guidelines are a helpful place to start.

These guidelines clearly state that in order to help reduce your risk of heart disease, it is important to limit your consumption of heavily salted foods, foods and drinks with added sugar, ultra-processed foods, and alcohol.

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology states similar guidelines and has found that a "poor-quality" diet, which is one that consists of the foods mentioned above and is also low in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can significantly increase your chances of cardiovascular disease.

New research has also found that 58% of the western diet is made up of processed foods, and these foods greatly raise the risk for developing heart disease, with this risk increasing the more often you eat these ultra-processed items.

Red Meat Is Even Worse For Your Heart Than We Thought, Says New Study

Helpful eating habits for your heart

The AHA's guidelines also include helpful tips for foods and dietary patterns that have a positive effect on your heart as well. They suggest eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, incorporating whole grains, and choosing healthy, lean sources of protein. These patterns, combined with the suggestions of foods and beverages to limit, can significantly help improve your risk for heart disease.

At the end of the day, the research seems to agree that lowering your risk for heart disease is a combined effort. It can't be solved with just one specific food or nutrient but instead can be significantly reduced with a balanced diet that follows many of the suggested guidelines.

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha
Filed Under