4 Drinking Habits to Avoid If You Have Heart Disease: Eat This, Not That

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That’s a stat! What you eat certainly plays a role, and eating the right foods can help lower your risk. However, most people forget that the drinks you drink also play a role in increasing or decreasing your risk of heart disease.

below are Four Drinking Habits to Avoid if You Have Heart Diseasealong with what you can drink instead.

Sad woman drinking wine in the kitchen.
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Excessive alcohol consumption can raise blood pressure levels and increase the risk of heart disease. It can also increase your levels of triglycerides, a fatty substance found in your blood that, when elevated, can also increase your risk of heart disease.

Instead: According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, if you choose to drink alcohol, men should have no more than 2 drinks per day and women should have no more than 1 drink per day. One drink is defined as 12 fluid ounces of beer, 5 fluid ounces of wine, and 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits such as rum or vodka.

bottled smoothies
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Smoothies and shakes can certainly be part of a healthy diet, but adding too many high-calorie ingredients can make these seemingly healthy drinks a calorie bomb. A risk factor for heart disease is being overweight or obese, so drinking 600- or 800-calorie smoothies or shakes regularly can increase your risk of packing on the pounds.

Instead: Consider the size of your shake or smoothie (12 fluid ounces is usually a good size). Add low-calorie ingredients like spinach, fruit, and low-fat or fat-free milk, and if you choose high-fat ingredients like nut butters or avocado, use small portions.

RELATED: 8 Best Low Calorie Smoothies for Weight Loss

coconut oil and fresh coconuts
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If you like to drink a coconut beverage (also known as coconut milk) or add it to your coffee or dishes, it may increase your risk of heart disease. According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, coconut (as in oil or as a beverage) is considered a saturated fat that has been shown to increase “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.

Instead: Opt for low-fat or skim milk or a variety of plant-based beverages like almonds, oatmeal, and rice that don’t contain much, if any, saturated fat.

RELATED: Surprising Signs of Heart Disease Experts Warn About

holding a green smoothie with a straw
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Many canned vegetable drinks (such as tomato juice) provide a good amount of sodium. According to the CDC, too much sodium (salt) can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease.

Instead: Choose low-sodium 100% vegetable juices that count toward your daily vegetable intake, and be mindful of how much you drink.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN

Toby Amidor is an award-winning dietitian and Wall Street Journal Best-selling cookbook author who believes that healthy and wholesome can also be appetizing and delicious. read more

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