Farmed Salmon: I am sure you have heard about Omega-3 fatty acids and how we get too few in our diet. Omega-3's are essential for heart health and for emotional and mental well-being. You may not be aware, however, that farmed salmon contains a lot fewer Omega-3 fatty acids compared to wild salmon. In addition, farmed salmon is much more likely to contain PCB's and dioxins if care is not taken at the facility where the salmon is raised.
Instant Oatmeal: Oatmeal has been touted as a heart-healthy food because it can help lower cholesterol; however, instant oatmeal is not the best oatmeal choice. If you want to have a healthy heart, it is important to keep your blood sugar levels relatively stable. Instant oatmeal is high on the glycemic scale and will raise blood sugar levels very quickly. if you want to eat oats, opt for steel cut oats instead. They are not as processed and will spike blood sugar levels less. Steel cut oats do take longer to cook so if you are short of time, choose old-fashioned rolled oats which are also better than instant.
Food with Added Trans Fats: Surveys show that most people know they should not be eating trans fats; however, most people do not know how to identify a trans fat on an ingredient label. Look for the words hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, or shortening on the ingredient label to determine if the food contains added trans fats. If the food contains added trans fats, do not purchase it. Trans fats raise LDL (bad cholesterol), lower HDL (good cholesterol) and raise triglycerides.
Canned Tomatoes: Tomatoes are thought to be a heart-healthy food because they contain lycopene, beta-carotene, potassium, among other heart-healthy nutrients. Tomatoes, however, are often stored in tin cans which have a resin lining that contains bisphenol-A (BPA). Some studies indicate that BPA can increase a person's risk for heart attack and diabetes. Tomatoes are of particular concern when stored in these containers because the acidity found in tomatoes causes BPA to leach out of the lining and into the food more readily. The effects of BPA on human health are still controversial; however, in my opinion enough research has been done that suggests BPA may be harmful that I would opt to limit my exposure as much as possible.
Most Store-Bought Frozen Meals: How many of you are eating microwaveable, frozen meals for lunch while at work? I know when I worked in the corporate environment, this was a very common practice. The problem is that most of these meals contain extremely high amounts of salt. One serving can contain as much as 25% - 40% of your daily salt intake. The average American consumes 3,375mg of salt per day well above the FDA recommended 2,300mg. High salt intake has been shown to raise blood pressure levels in some people. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease.