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Eating Habits to Avoid If You Don't Want Heart Disease, Says Science

These common habits could be putting your heart in harm's way.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

From eating vegetables to getting regular exercise, you likely do any number of things on a daily basis to keep your heart healthy. Unfortunately, heart disease remains the number one cause of death around the world, with many people inadvertently making choices that damage their heart health on a daily basis. However, it's not just a sedentary lifestyle that could be increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Read on to discover the eating habits to avoid if you don't want heart disease. And if you want to improve your health in a hurry, start with The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

Skipping breakfast

young woman with curly hair drinking from black mug
Shutterstock / mimagephotography

While many people skip their morning meal as part of an intermittent fasting routine, doing so could be a contributor to heart problems down the line.

According to a 2019 study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Development and Disease, among a group of 199,634 adults who had not been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease at the beginning of their respective study periods, those who didn't eat breakfast regularly had a 21% higher risk of acute symptoms from cardiovascular disease (like heart attack and angina) or death from cardiovascular disease than those who ate breakfast on a regular basis.

The Best Foods To Eat If You Have Heart Disease, Say Dietitians

Regularly eating refined carbohydrates

Senior man eating chocolate donut

While some fiber-rich carbs can be part of a healthy diet, your intake of refined carbohydrates, from white bread to sugary snacks, may be causing your heart disease risk to soar.

A 2021 study published in The BMJ found that, among a group of 148,858 participants in the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study living in 21 countries, individuals with the highest intake of refined grains had the highest risk of heart-disease-related health events and overall mortality.

Eating red and processed meat

Couple having lunch at rustic gourmet restaurant

If red or processed meats, like sausage and bacon, are part of your regular routine, you could be putting your heart in harm's way.

A 2021 meta-analysis published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found that each daily increase of 50 grams of red meat raised coronary heart disease risk by 9% and each daily increase of 50 grams of processed meat increased coronary heart disease risk by 18%.

 The #1 Thing a Cardiologist Does Every Day for Better Heart Health

Eating fried foods

A woman biting from crispy meat and being hungry,shot taken inside fast food restaurant, looking at camera with raised eyebrow.

You likely know that fried food isn't exactly healthy fare, but you might not realize just how bad it can affect your cardiovascular health.

A pooled data analysis published in the journal Heart in 2021 found that each 114-gram (approximately 4-ounce) increase in weekly fried food intake was associated with significant increases in heart disease risk. Individuals who consumed the most fried food also had a 37% higher risk of heart failure, a 28% higher risk of major cardiovascular events, and a 22% higher risk of coronary heart disease as compared to those who ate the lowest amounts of fried food.

Eating late at night

A woman in her 40s wearing headphones and eating popcorn while watching a movie on a streaming service on a laptop at night.

If you want to keep your heart healthy over time, you might want to consider slowing down on those midnight snacks.

A 2020 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that, among a group of 7,771 adults without cancer, diabetes, or heart disease at the beginning of the study period, individuals who reported regularly eating at night had increased arterial stiffness, which has been linked to cardiovascular disease.

Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more about Sarah