7 heart healthy swaps for processed foods

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The average American diet is full of processed foods that rely on unhealthy fats, added salt and sugar in all its different forms to appeal to your taste buds, according to research presented at an American Heart Association (AHA) conference held last year. It’s a menu guaranteed to increase the chances of developing heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Researchers found that the study’s participants whose calories increased by 5 percent experienced a corresponding decline in their cardiovascular health. Participants who reported about 70 percent of their diet consisted of processed foods were half as likely to have “ideal” cardiovascular health.

When you displace healthy food choices with options loaded with ultra-processed fats, sugars, artificial colors and preservatives, you deprive your body of many of the nutrients it needs.

The study highlights the importance of a healthy, whole-food eating plan. Results showed that when you displace healthy food choices with options loaded with ultra-processed fats, sugars, artificial colors and preservatives, you deprive your body of many of the nutrients it needs. If that sounds familiar, maybe it’s time to make some dietary changes.

While you're hunkered down in  your home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this could be a good time to reassess your diet, and try making small daily changes. Start by swapping out one processed food item in your lunch or dinner. Then challenge yourself with a food swap the second day, third day and so on. Small changes add up to a healthier diet and better health. Let's do this! 

Here are seven simple food swaps to reduce the processed food in your diet and improve your heart health at the same time.

In addition, when you think about swapping out sugary drinks or drinks made with artificial sugars like diet sodas, opt for water, herbal tea or unsweetened juice. Learn more in this podcast about the effects of drinking diet soda on your health. 



Find a doctor

If you feel unwell and would like to consult your doctor, consider using telemedicine options. Providence Express Care Virtual connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction and follow-up as needed. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory or search for one in your area.

If you want to make lasting changes to your daily menu, the heart and vascular specialists at Providence can help you develop a healthy eating plan that improves your heart health and promotes your overall wellbeing. You can find a Providence cardiologist using our provider directory






Regional resources

Alaska: Heart and Vascular Center

California: Heart and Vascular Center

Montana: Heart and Vascular Center

Texas: Covenant Health Heart and Vascular Center

Washington: Heart and Vascular Center | Cardiology Providers

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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.


About the Author

The Providence Heart & Vascular Team is committed to bringing you many years of expertise and experience to help you understand how to prevent, treat and recover from cardiovascular diseases and conditions. From tips to eating better to exercise and everything in between, our clinical experts know how to help you help your heart.

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