Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC. Women are at especially high risk—cardiovascular disease causes 1 in 3 deaths in women each year. While things like genetics can play a role, a healthy diet and lifestyle are the best ways to prevent putting yourself at risk of heart-related illness.
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We all know that the Standard American Diet is packed with preservatives—as a society we prioritize efficiency and ease, and prepackaged and processed foods are easiest to have when you’re on the go. But they could be increasing your risk for a number of health issues, especially heart disease. Some ingredients are worse than others, but one that is a particular threat to your heart health is saturated fat.
“Food that is rich in saturated fat increases total cholesterol, LDL, and lipoprotein (Lp)a.” Says Dr. Raed Bargout, a cardiologist at Dignity Health-Glendale Memorial Hospital in Glendale, California. Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood that is necessary for building healthy cells. But when you have too much of it, it can prevent blood from efficiently pumping through your body, which could lead to things like heart attack and stroke. Monitoring your cholesterol levels is a key component of managing your health, especially if you’re already at risk of heart disease.
One food that is particularly high in saturated fat is red meat. This is especially true for meat used in fast food, which is often cooked in lots of oils that are high in saturated fats. While a fast food meal here and there is nothing to worry about, being thoughtful with what you order is one thing that you can do to invest in your long term health. When it comes to fast food meats that you should be wary of, pork is one you should pay attention to.
Pork on its own is already tricky when it comes to heart health. “Pork is loaded with saturated fat—leading to cardiovascular problems, high cholesterol, weight gain and more.” Says Caitlin Policastro, a nurse practitioner at the New York Center for Innovative Medicine. Eating pork from fast food restaurants just adds onto the saturated fat content, as it’s most likely cooked in oils loaded with saturated fat.
As stated previously, all things can be enjoyed in moderation. There’s nothing wrong with a fast food meal here and there. But, if you are already at high risk of heart-related illness, being mindful of what you’re ordering and what it contains is important for keeping your health in mind. When ordering at a fast food restaurant, it may be best to avoid sandwiches or meals containing pork, as they’re full of saturated fat, which can increase your cholesterol levels.