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Popular Foods That May Lead to a Heart Attack, According to Science

Cutting these foods from your diet now could help protect your heart in the future.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming more than 365,000 lives in 2018—more than all types of cancer and Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease combined—according to the American Heart Association. While some individuals may be more susceptible to heart disease than others due to their genetics, there are countless modifiable factors that can help lower your risk of having a heart attack in the future—including making changes to your diet now. If you want to reduce your heart attack risk, it's time to cut these foods from your meal plan ASAP. And if you want to make over your diet in no time, check out The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.


Fried foods

fried chicken

While it's likely no surprise that fried foods, from fried chicken to French fries, aren't exactly friends to your waistline, it may surprise you just how bad they are for your heart. According to a 2014 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, fried food consumption was significantly associated with the development of coronary artery disease (CAD), a common risk factor for heart attacks. Among study subjects who consumed fried food between four and six times a week, the risk of CAD shot up by 23 percent compared to those who ate fried foods less than once a week.

And if you want to slash your heart attack risk, check out these 20 Foods That Can Help Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease.




Soda is undeniably bad for your teeth and belly, but you may not realize just how much damage it can do to your heart, as well. A 2019 study published in the journal Circulation found that drinking two or more sugar-sweetened sodas a day increased a person's risk of cardiovascular disease-related death by 21 percent.

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Red meat

steak and potatoes on a plate

If you want to protect your heart, limiting your red meat consumption is a smart place to start. A 2020 BMJ study that followed 43,272 adult men without cardiovascular disease at the study's onset over the course of 30 years found that consuming one serving of any type of red meat a day was associated with a 12 percent increase in cardiovascular disease risk.

If you want to add some healthier protein to your diet, start with the 35 Best Vegan Protein Sources to Help You Crush Cravings and Feel Full.



bacon slices closeup

Processed meat, like bacon, may be a treat for your taste buds, but it could be doing serious damage to your heart.

A 2020 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that, among 29,682 adults, those who ate processed meats twice a week—with a serving consisting of two slices of bacon, two small sausage links, or a single hot dog—the risk of heart attack was up to seven percent higher than among those who consumed no processed meat. Looking for healthier ways to increase your protein intake? Check out The 35 Best High Protein Snacks at the Supermarket.



Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more about Sarah