What do a crisp piece of bacon, a handful of corn chips and a dish of full fat ice cream have in common? If you guessed that they are foods that can affect your circulatory system negatively, you are correct.
The circulatory system is the body’s main highway. The blood vessels provide a pathway for the blood to transfer nutrients to cells and to remove cellular waste. For good circulation, the goal is to keep blood flowing through your veins and arteries and to minimize the potential for plaque build-up in the arteries.
There is a strong relationship between blood vessel health and foods high in certain fats, preservatives and minerals. Because what food we put in our bodies plays a big role in overall health, it is important to understand what not to eat.
Salt and sodium
Our bodies – even our hearts – need salt. Health issues arise when we consume too much salt. Half of the chemical structure of salt is sodium. The sodium found in salt results in water retention, which increases blood volume and raises blood pressure and in turn the pressure can damage vessel walls.
Many foods contain hidden sodium so be sure to read your labels. You likely know that processed foods and fast food are high in sodium, but healthy choices such as cottage cheese and whole-grain bread also have significant amounts of sodium, too.
The current guidelines advise that healthy people should not consume more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, limit sodium to 1,500 milligrams. Seek out low-sodium versions of your favorite foods; these foods contain less than 140 milligrams of sodium per serving.
Ingesting too much sugar causes the body to release high amounts of insulin and triggers inflammation. High sugar diets can lead to Type II diabetes, which can lead to circulation-related complications because the veins can become brittle from the overload of glucose in the blood.
Stay away from added sugars. For a sweet treat choose fresh fruit over candy, cookies and cakes, and also think twice before topping your salad with Catalina dressing or adding ketchup to your burger.
That bacon wrapped hot dog at the deli might look delicious, but consider this: not only is it high in sodium, but it is high in chemical preservatives, or nitrates, too.
Nitrates damage vessel walls. When you eat nitrate laden foods, you are increasing your risk of atherosclerosis, a condition that occurs when the walls of your arteries develop fatty plaques. These plaques narrow your blood vessels and obstruct blood flow, and your artery walls become more brittle and susceptible to damage.
Stay away from deli meat, bacon, hot dogs and processed meats. Nitrate-free and low-sodium prepackaged deli meats are available at many stores. Another option is to cook and prepare your own lean meats at home.
Saturated or Trans fats
Saturated and Trans fats increase the harmful cholesterol (LDL) in your bloodstream and decrease the beneficial, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL). High LDL cholesterol can contribute to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
Trans fats are a type of fat made through a chemical process called hydrogenation. These fats affect your cholesterol levels. Did you know that when you fry foods in healthy oil at home you actually are creating Trans fats?
You can minimize the bad fats by choosing sirloin steak or pork tenderloin over prime rib or pork shoulder. Do not eat fried foods, and avoid processed foods.
A healthy diet is part of maintaining vein health. Remember to talk with your doctor about dietary restrictions. For more information about vascular disease or to make an appointment go to www.sdveininstitute.com or call us at 760-944-9263.