5 Foods Your Cardiologist Wants You to Stop Eating

Dr Ramasami Nandakumar tells us what not to eat for a healthy heart

Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S? And nearly
1 out of 3 deaths in Singapore, are due to heart disease or stroke. 1 We all read about
what’s healthy and what’s not, but sometimes marketing gimmicks, labels and pre
existing notions make us eat food that may actually be harming our bodies. We
spoke to Senior Cardiologist, Dr Ramasami Nandakumar on the top unhealthy foods
for your heart and what to eat instead. Read on to find out more. 

1. Foods High in Salt

You already know foods like chips or crisps pack a lot of salt, but you need to be
aware of how much they raise blood pressure, making you susceptible to heart
disease. Dr Nandakumar says “Chips are laden with saturated fat and salt, and both
are terrible for your heart. There are also several foods that we almost don’t expect
to be high in salt. Premade soups, canned vegetables, off-the-shelf sauces are some
of the worst culprits. The solution lies in reading labels and eating fresh – more work
in the kitchen, but so worth it! As I always say – be smart. Be Label Smart.”

2. Cured Meat

If you have been watching What the Health on Netflix you already know where this is
going! The sausages and cold cuts we eat are laden with nitrates and salt. Nitrates
can increase your risk of cancer and salt is a known contributor to hypertension and
heart disease.“You can treat yourself with the occasional hot dog or hamburger.
When you eat about 50 grams of processed meat every day which is the equivalent
of one hot dog or 4 bacon strips, your risk of developing colorectal cancer increases
by 18%. Avoid red meat and processed meat and include skinless poultry, lean
meat, oily fish, beans and lentils for your fill of protein” 2 adds Dr Nandakumar.

3. Sugar and its Hidden Forms

While we often strive to not eat sugar in the form of chocolates and candy, there’s
plenty of it in that soda you are sipping too. Dr Nandakumar explains “Whilst there
are many obvious foods like pastries, white rice and sweet sauces, breakfast cereals
and fruit juices also pack a lot of sugar. We all like our can of soda or soft drink with
our food, but that could have approximately 10 or 11 teaspoons of sugar which
exceeds the AHA recommendations for consumption of sugar(6 teaspoons for
women and 9 for men). 3 Try to include whole grains and fiber in your diet and be
aware of foods that have high glycemic index. You’ve probably heard it before, but
be conscious of portion sizes, read labels and snack on fruit or nuts when that urge
to eat sugar strikes. And yes, think again before you open that can of soda.”

4. Fried Food

Love that bucket of fried chicken? Your heart is urging you to stop eating it along
with those samosas, fries and pub-style calamari. “Say no to french fries” says Dr
Nandakumar. “ The carbs can spike your sugar levels and the added fat and salt is
doing your heart no favours. Do consider healthy snacks such as nuts or seeds but if
you really crave those crisps then baked is reasonable. Moderate consumption and
preparation methods are key to maintaining a balanced nutritious diet”

5. Blended Coffee

Saying goodbye to our regular cup at the coffee shop sounds too harsh, cruel even.
Dr Nandakumar empathises “ Most of my patients hate having to do away with their
regular coffee. But even if you skip the cream, the syrup, sugar and other toppings
can increase your blood glucose and BP levels ie, a total disaster for your heart
health. My advise is to not skip your cuppa entirely, just have it black or with milk and
stay away from the added sugar. I actually prefer gourmet, well-sourced coffee i.e.
Ethiopian, Sumatra or the Kenyan – with no add ons!”


1 http://www.myheart.org.sg/article/about-the-heart-and-heart-disease/statistics/singapore/75
2 Lancet Oncology, Vol 16, no 16, 1599-1600
3 Does consuming Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners Change Taste preferences?
Bartolotto et al, Perm J 2015 Summer;19(3):81-84

Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Among Adults With Type 2 Diabetes Sara N Bleich and
Y.Claire Wang, DIABETES CARE, VOLUME 34, MARCH 2011, 551-5
Cross-sectional survey of the amount of free sugars and calories in carbonated sugar-sweetened
beverages on sale in the UK
Kawther M Hashem, Feng J He, Katharine H Jenner, Graham A MacGregor BMJ Open 2016;6:
e010874. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2015-010874

About Dr Ramasami Nandakumar
Dr Ramasami Nandakumar is currently working as a Senior Interventional
Cardiologist at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Gleneagles Hospital, Farrer Park Hospital ,
Mount Alvernia Hospital and Cardiac Centre International. He is also a Visiting
Senior Consultant at Ng Teng Fong Hospital and National University Hospital. You
can reach Dr Kumar on +65 82616483 (WhatsApp also) or via his website

About the Author :