Along with several other factors, such as your activity level and blood pressure, your diet plays a central role in your cardiovascular health. While cooking for yourself at home with nutritious, antioxidant-rich whole foods is always the best way to keep your heart healthy, you may not always be able to do that. a fast food restaurant. It goes without saying that this is never the healthiest option, but there are a few menu items in particular that health experts say you should avoid if you care about your heart, including a fried, cheesy option.
To discover the worst side of fast food that you should avoid at the drive-thru to keep your heart healthy, we spoke with cardiologist Anjali Dutta, MD, FACC of Morristown Medical Center at Atlantic health system. She told us that you fried cheese curds because of their high sodium content. Learn more about the health risks associated with this side and find some advice for healthy alternatives below!
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Fried cheese curds
No one thinks “healthy” when they think of “fast food.” However, there are some options that are definitely worse than others when it comes to heart health — and as for the sides, Dr. Dutta that it doesn’t get much worse than some devious delicious baked cheese curds. “Fried cheese curds are probably the most dangerous fast food item for your heart,” she says.
This is the case for several reasons, but one of the biggest problems with fried cheese curds (along with many other fast food menu items) is the fact that they are loaded with salt. “Due to the fact that fast food dishes are typically high in sodium to begin with, high-sodium sides such as French fries should not be consumed often,” explains Dr. Dutta out. Cheese curds, in particular, offer up to 1,000 mg of sodium in just one order—and that’s just the average! Considering your daily recommended intake is 1,500, a large order of cheese curds (sometimes containing as much as 2,100 mg of sodium) could easily put you over the limit. “The high sodium mixed with extra saturated fats makes for the perfect storm of cardiovascular risk,” she warns.
Dr. In fact, Dutta says cheese curds could knock any fast-food menu item out of the park when it comes to heart health risks, noting that their sodium content could make them “not just the unhealthiest side dish, but the most unhealthy dish.” all over the map.” Yuck!
What does all that salt and fat ultimately do to your heart? Dr. Dutta explains it for us: “Continuous and excessive sodium intake has been scientifically proven to affect blood pressure,” she says. “If someone has too much sodium in their bloodstream, their blood vessels absorb more water, which can lead to increased blood pressure.” This puts you at risk for cardiovascular problems like heart disease, stroke, and more.
What to order instead
Let’s face it: sometimes you find yourself in a situation that calls for a quick stop at a fast-food drive-thru. So if you’re looking forward to heart health, what should you order? Hopefully it’s clear now that you should skip the cheese curds, but Dr. Dutta says there are still options. “Many fast food restaurants actually offer heart-healthy options,” she says. “One of the heart healthiest foods a person can consume is ‘leafy greens’ (lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.).” As long as you choose a salad without high-fat toppings like creamy dressing or a ton of bacon, you’re making a healthy choice when you order a salad. And if that’s not an option, a side of fruit is another great way to go.
Of course, fast food is never going to be the healthiest thing you can eat — and if you’re really craving a salty side, a few cheese curds won’t kill you. However, if you’re trying to keep your heart health in check, remember that making healthy food choices whenever possible is always the best course of action.