An article from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently jumped out at me. The authors are the Nutrition Twins who are identical twin sisters and, as they describe themselves, “veggie and chocolate loving, registered dieticians and personal trainers.” Now, how can you not like them? I’m a personal trainer who also likes chocolate and enjoys food just like you - even the “whoa, I can’t believe a fitness trainer is eating that” food. I’ve completed some nutrition courses but I’m not a registered dietitian nor a nutrition expert. But the Nutrition Twins are and here is what they have to say about foods that are bad for our heart.

Deep-fried foods. Deep frying foods creates trans-fats and trans-fats can raise the bad cholesterol. Also, these foods often contain saturated fats and are high in salt (risk factors for heart disease). The option to deep frying foods is to bake them.

Fast foods. The majority of fast foods are fried, high in salt, sugar and calories. Again, all risk factors for heart disease. Take the time to plan your meals daily and not depend on fast foods. Are you living fast and furious with too many commitments? Take a moment to consider the benefits versus the risks of these commitments that may be making you live unhealthy.

Margarine. Again, the words trans-fat comes to mind when talking about margarine. A trans-fat is created when the plant oil is processed and made into a solid. Instead, use a soft spread that doesn’t contain the word “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredients.

Processed meats. Bacon, sausage, pepperoni, salami, cold cuts and cured meats are all processed meats.  I know, I just said bacon and I love bacon! Who doesn’t? But I’m very careful to make bacon a treat and not overeat it. Researchers suggest limiting processed meats to once a week. You can choose eggs, fresh fish, poultry, beans and lean red meat instead.

Salt. Salt is in a lot of foods today. A New England Journal of Medicine study showed that most people eat 4,000 mg a day when the recommended maximum is 2,300 mg. Instead use spices, vinegars and squeezed lemons on your foods and limit the amount of packaged foods you eat.

Sugar-Sweetened drinks. Look around. Sugar drinks are everywhere and in most people’s hands these days. Sugar drinks contribute to inflammation, high blood sugar and increased risk of heart disease. Instead, drink water, seltzer or unsweetened drinks. You can also infuse water with orange, lime, lemon and other flavors such as cucumber and watermelon. 

All these foods are very popular in our society today because they’re easy to buy and eat. We have a saying in the fitness training business that puts it all into perspective. “You can’t exercise away or out train poor nutrition and overeating.” Think about that and make wise food choices.

Here’s to your great health.

Jonathan Souder is the Fitness Director at Manor House, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Seaford, Delaware. This column appeared in the October 12, 2017 edition of the Seaford Star.