You Should Avoid These 3 Types of Foods That Directly Affect Cardiovascular Health

By Urbanaveed
12 Min Read

The heart is the core of our body. The efficiency with which it pumps blood throughout the body is greatly impacted by the types of foods we consume. All natural foods are optimal in nutrients or electrolytes. Some are rich in specific minerals or electrolytes. The consumers (we) should know the nutrient chart of a fruit or vegetable they are consuming. For example, bananas and potatoes are rich in potassium. Their utilization is beneficial for individuals facing hypokalemia (low potassium content in blood). But if these are utilized to more than an extent, they can induce hyperkalemia (high potassium content in blood). To avoid an outcome like this, one must know the nutritional value of natural supplements they deplete.

In this blog post, we will gain knowledge of such 3 types of foods that directly impact our cardiovascular health. We will also comprehend how these foods are unsound for our little pumping machine.

Types of Foods That are High in Potassium

Following is the list of types of foods that high in potassium along with the explanation of its potential effects.

What is The Normal Function of Potassium in the Cardiac Health?

Potassium is an important electrolyte for a variety of processes in our body. Potassium is pivotal for maintaining bone integrity, nerve impulse transmission, blood pressure regulation, electrolyte balance, etc. Being more specific to heart health, potassium plays a significant character in maintaining the rhythmicity of the heart. It keeps the heart electrically stable and synchronized. We have discussed the role of potassium in preventing arrhythmias in detail in our previous blog post. For a general explanation, potassium is essential for normal depolarization and repolarization phases. Any instability in potassium levels either low or high disrupts the normal electrical excitability of the heart and leads to arrhythmias.

What are the Effects of High Potassium Content in Our Blood?

In this scenario, we will discuss the aftermath of hyperkalemia. Hyperkalemia results when potassium reaches levels beyond the normal. Potassium induces the resting membrane potential by initiating the repolarization phase. Normal potassium levels are compulsory for the repolarization. Elevated potassium levels can make it difficult to generate action potentials by sustaining the repolarization phase for comparatively longer periods. This leads to slowed conduction and affects the electrical stability of the heart. Furthermore, potassium also impacts calcium handling in cardiac activity. High potassium levels disturb normal calcium regulation. This in turn weakened the muscular contractions of the heart.

Calcium is the major element required for the contractile activity of muscles. The low or disrupted activity of calcium affects cardiac muscle contractions. So, elevated levels of potassium can result in more dismal conditions than imagined. Bradycardia (slowed conduction of the heart) is the major outcome of this condition.

Examples of Such Foods

Following is the list of foods that are rich in potassium. Optimal consumption of these foods is healthy for cardiac and overall body health. But if these foods are taken in quantity more than required, they can lead to hyperkalemia.

  1. Bananas
  2.  Baked or cooked Potatoes
  3.  Tomatoes
  4.  Avocadoes
  5.  Spinach
  6.  Dried Fruits
  7.  Salt substitutes that contain potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride

Types of Foods That are Rich in Trans Fats

What are Trans Fats and why they are used?

Trans fats are formed industrially by the process of partial hydrogenation. In this process, vegetable oils (unsaturated fats) undergo the hydrogenation process in which hydrogen is made to bond with reactant at trans positions. The normal fats we consume are cis fats which are healthier than trans fats. Trans fats are used worldwide on a large scale in the food industry due to their better stability properties. Trans fats have a prolonged shelf life and provide better texture and taste. The major reason for their vast usage in the food industry is their property of being stable over an extended period than the cis fats.

What are the health hazards of trans fats?

Although trans fats are beneficial for industry owners as they provide a better flavor, texture, and shelf life but no better health quality. Trans fats reduce the levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol that are considered good fats. HDL cholesterol naturally deteriorates fats from our body. It does so by extracting fats from our arteries and other blood vessels and carrying them to the liver for their removal. Trans fats also increase the ratio of LDL (low-density lipoproteins) cholesterol in our blood. Unlike HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol is a bad fat that is fatal for cardiovascular health.

LDL cholesterol forms plaques inside the arteries and blocks the passage of blood. This effect of LDL cholesterol leads to atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. HDL cholesterol helps the heart by naturally diminishing the LDL cholesterol levels by taking them to the liver for their deterioration. On top of all that, trans fats are more liable to cause obesity. As artificial trans fats have better stability and shelf life than natural fats, they cause the retention of fatty tissues in the body. Obesity is much more harmful to women than men. Thus, in light of all the above-mentioned scientific explanations regarding trans fats, they are not considered good for cardiac health and are banned in many countries including Canada and the United States.

According to World Health Organization (WHO),

Artificially produced trans fats, most commonly used in industries, can be the cause of more than 278000 death each year world wide.

Examples of Types of Foods that are High in Trans Fats

Processed and baked foods contain a very high ratio of trans fats. Due to their excellent texture and shelf life characteristics, they are used widely in super-processed foods like potato chips, snacks, bakery goods, etc. Other than processed foods, fried foods also contain them in very high amounts. Due to their heavy usage in the food industry, almost all food prepared in the industries contains trans fats. Owing to their health hazards, the world is struggling to make less or no use of them in the food industry. Oils having minimal trans fats are preferred for popping corns and other cooking purposes.

Types of Foods that are Sodium-Saturated

What Sodium should be a must-ingredient in our diet?

Sodium is a very influential electrolyte for our body. It plays a role in nerve impulse transmission by initiating the depolarization phase, helps maintain osmotic balance in and around the cells, regulates blood pressure mechanism, etc. Sodium is a major extracellular electrolyte found around the cells. It is momentous for maintaining an osmotic balance between intracellular and extracellular fluids. It keeps the electrochemical gradient regarding their concentration in extracellular fluid. Any abnormality in its concentration in the extracellular fluid leads to turbulence in the electrochemical balance. Let’s see the effects of hypernatremia (high levels of sodium) in detail below.

What Happens When Sodium Levels Reach Beyond Ideal?

Being an important cation in the extracellular fluid, its elevated levels cause osmotic instability. When sodium ions concentration becomes high, water tends to move towards high solute concentration (outside the cells). This outward movement of water due to high solute concentration outside the cells causes blood volume to increase. Increased blood volume puts pressure on arterial walls when passing through them. This in turn raises the blood pressure inside arteries and heart. Elevated blood pressure puts strain on heart muscles affecting their elasticity and pumping action. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a strong reason for heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases.

Thus, increased sodium leads to increased blood volume which in turn upraises the blood pressure. The major upset it causes is reduced elasticity of arterial walls and the heart muscles. This greatly affects the normal pumping action of the heart.

Examples of Such types of Foods

Canned soups and broths like tomato soups, mushroom soups, and other such foods are high in sodium and must be utilized carefully. Processed foods, potato chips, salted nuts, peanuts, microwave popcorn, etc. are enriched with salt content. These foods are convenient but not completely healthy. Super-processed foods contain both trans fats and a heavy salt content. After effects of both of these are already explained. Besides these foods, if we sprinkle too much salt on our daily food, it can also become unhealthy to eat.

Salt-preserved foods like pickles are also a major source of sodium and too much usage of them can cause hypernatremia. Hypernatremia usually results in swelling of different body parts due to the water-retaining property of sodium. Thus, avoiding too much consumption of salty foods is a preventive and intelligent measure.


Apart from these 3 types of foods, many other foods are also unhealthy for cardiac care. But as such no food is unhealthy unless we start to overconsume it. So, whatever the types of foods, they must be utilized in a limited manner. Anything beyond the extent is fatal to human health. Human health is fragile and demands a balance of every nutrient. We will also discuss types of foods that are good for skin health in some other posts.

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Student of BSc MLT at NUMS, and Content Writer in Health, Medicine, and Wellness. Finding soothe in writing and spreading knowledge.
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