During the holiday season, even the healthiest eaters forget about their resolutions to maintain a nutritious diet. Fruits, vegetables, and water get replaced with cookies, sweets, eggnog, and other choice beverages. These foods not only negatively impact a person’s waistline, but they can also have significant negative effects on a person’s blood vessels. Here’s what you should know!
Why Are Your Blood Vessels Important?
Blood vessels are a body part that many people do not really think about unless they are getting their blood drawn. However, blood vessels play an essential role in the body’s overall healthy functioning. These vessels transport critical nutrients to all of the body’s internal organs. Without a healthy supply of blood and nutrients, these organs would simply not be able to function on their own.
When blood vessels aren’t able to function at their optimal level, the rest of your body essentially suffers. Although altered blood flow can result from injuries or disease, other factors may also impact the way your blood vessels work. One important factor that is frequently overlooked in blood vessel functioning is the food that we eat.
When it comes to analyzing the foods we eat, most people aren’t aware of what’s actually transpiring within their body. At the same time, some don’t even want to know. Either way, we’re committed to helping people understand how they can live healthier and happier by preventing conditions that can impact their quality of life. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the foods that hinder our heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body.
What Foods Hinder Blood Vessel Functioning?
It may not come as a big surprise, but some of the foods that we eat don’t really help our blood vessels function at their optimal level. Understanding what you put into your body can make a big difference in the way you feel and look. Examples of foods that are unhealthy for the vascular system and blood vessels may include: fatty foods and foods that are high in sodium and nitrates. Since most people aren’t sure what types of foods fall under these categories, allow us to expand on some examples.
What are some examples of fatty foods? First of all, it is important to differentiate between foods that have healthy fats in them (for example, nuts and avocados) and foods that have unhealthy fats, such as trans fat (trans fats are found in processed junk food and many of the meals that you would get at fast-food restaurants). These fats may cause spikes in bad cholesterol levels and can also, in the long term, lead to atherosclerosis in the body’s blood vessels.
Therefore, people need to be aware and make conscious decisions to avoid these foods. Even simple dietary changes may help. For example, instead of having a fatty steak with your meal, you can substitute a lean cut of pork or a chicken breast without its skin. While it may be difficult to ignore your taste buds, think about the benefits you’ll experience when investing in a little self control.
High Sodium Foods
Which foods are high in sodium? Again, fast food and processed junk food have extremely high sodium levels. Next time you visit the grocery store make sure to check the label on some of your guilty pleasures. The sodium levels are likely to shock you! But, sodium is also lurking in seemingly healthier choices, like soup and bread. This means that you have to be aware when you are making choices at your next holiday buffet. High sodium levels can increase a person’s blood pressure; and, in turn, high blood pressure stresses blood vessels and can permanently damage them.
Recent studies have again confirmed the devastating link between sodium intake and high blood pressure, particularly for individuals who are already struggling with their weight.
High Nitrate Foods
Nitrates are found in some of our favorite foods, including hot dogs and bacon. Nitrates are also used as a preservative in many of the meats that are found on holiday sandwich platters. No one is saying that you cannot have these foods. However, you should eat them in moderation, remembering that nitrates can also contribute to vascular atherosclerosis. This atherosclerosis can lead to vessels becoming brittle, which in turn can cause aneurysms, as well as a wide range of other problems.
Aside from hot dogs and bacon, you should also remember that nitrates are found in some foods that most people assume are healthy. A recent study found that radishes packed a huge nitrate punch! Increasing your knowledge on what you put into your body can save you from a number of different diseases and bodily malfunctions. It may be frightening to know what’s going on inside your body, but information can be enlightening. Once you realize what you need to do to look, feel and function better, you’ll be an inspiration to those around you. Not many things are more fulfilling than choosing to be a happier, healthier version of you!
As we approach the holiday season when food is plentiful, and many of the choices on holiday buffets are less than healthy, it is important to remember that the foods we eat have consequences for our body and our health. If your hosting the holidays this year, what you decide to serve your guests can go a long way. Add a few healthy choices to the menu won’t hurt anyone.
It’s easy to be overly concerned with what we’re physically able to see in the mirror, such as an expanded waistline. But, we sometimes overlook what is happening inside of our body. Our blood vessels are an essential part of our well-being. Improving the functionality of our system should always be a priority. So, this holiday season be conscious about the amount of fats, sodium, and nitrates that you are consuming.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about your vascular health, we’d love to help where we can. Dr. Rami has been treating patients as a specialist and interventional radiologist for over 15 years in Phoenix, Arizona. Feel free to stop by our state-of-the-art endovascular center in Peoria if you’re ever in the neighborhood!