Fatty foods can trigger a chest pain called angina (angina is French for “angina”). This is a serious and sometimes fatal condition.
Angina is caused by a build-up of fatty acids that builds up in the arteries and heart. This can eventually lead to a heart attack.
Angina that starts as an attack at rest is called stable angina. It happens most often with heart problems, but it can also occur with other conditions, including obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Angina attacks that happen while you’re exercising or at rest are called unstable angina.
Fatty foods that can cause angina
Here are some of the most common fatty foods that can cause angina.
Processed foods and fast food
Many processed foods are high in saturated fats and sodium. These are the same foods that make people sick.
Processed foods often contain trans fats and saturated fats. In many processed foods, trans fats raise levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, which can cause blood vessel damage.
People who eat a lot of fast food or processed foods may have a higher risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, and stroke. Eating fast food or other processed foods also increases the risk of obesity and heart disease.
Milk and other dairy foods have been linked to increased risk of heart disease and stroke. This is because dairy foods are high in fat and cholesterol.
Some dairy foods, like milk and yogurt, are also rich in calcium, which can help prevent bone loss.
However, the amount of fat in dairy foods is only part of the story. The type of fat that comes from cow’s milk is different from plant-based milk. This difference can affect how much fat you absorb and how much fat you can digest.
Plant-based milks tend to be lower in fat and higher in calcium. Some of the higher-fat plant-based milks contain high amounts of fat and calories. This can make these milk products high in saturated fat.
Vegetarian and vegan foods
Vegetarian and vegan diets may be better for people who are already at risk of heart disease.
Although there are no definitive studies on vegetarian and vegan diets, they may help with weight loss and may lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Vegetarian and vegan foods include:
- Nuts and seeds
- Soy products
Saturated fats are found in many processed foods, especially those that are fried or deep-fried.
These fats are often high in saturated fat, which raises LDL cholesterol levels and can lead to heart disease.
Saturated fats can also be found in the skin of meat, such as butter, lard, and shortening.
Trans fats are commonly found in some fast foods and processed foods. Trans fats are a type of saturated fat.
Trans fats raise levels of LDL cholesterol and can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Trans fats have a chemical structure that looks very much like a normal fat molecule. This can make it harder for your body to break them down.
They can also build up in your body over time, and this can increase your risk of diabetes.
Processed foods and heart disease
Processed foods often contain fats and sugars. These can raise your levels of LDL cholesterol and put you at risk of heart disease.
These foods may also increase your risk of diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.
Foods that are good for heart health
Some foods may help prevent heart disease and can help your heart health.
Here are some good heart-healthy foods:
- Whole grains
- Lean proteins
- Beans and legumes
- Dairy products
- Plant-based milks
- Low-fat dairy products
- Low-fat or nonfat dairy alternatives
- Unsweetened fruit juice
- Unsweetened tea
How can I prevent angina?
There are several ways to prevent angina:
- Eat less saturated fat and trans fats.
- Keep your blood pressure and blood sugar within a healthy range.
- Cut back on sodium.
- Drink more water.
- Eat less processed food and fast food.
- Follow a heart-healthy diet.
- Lose weight.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
If you smoke, talk to your doctor about a smoking cessation program. A nicotine patch, gum, or other nicotine replacement therapy can help you quit.
If you have high blood pressure, you may need to take medication.
If you have diabetes, you may need to check your blood sugar levels and adjust your diet to help control your blood sugar.
How is angina treated?
If angina is caused by coronary artery disease (CAD), you may need to have your arteries checked and possibly treated.
If angina is caused by coronary heart disease (CHD), you may need medications to help control your blood pressure and blood sugar. These are known as blood pressure medications or blood sugar medications.
If your angina is caused by heart failure, you may need a heart-healthy diet and exercise program. You may also need medications to help your heart work better and improve your heart health.
If your angina is caused by a heart rhythm problem, you may need to have your heart rate and rhythm monitored.
If you have a coronary bypass surgery, you may need to take blood pressure medications and follow a heart-healthy diet and exercise program for several months.
If you have a heart attack, you may need to take medications to help control your blood pressure and blood sugar.
Medications can help relieve angina by managing your blood pressure and blood sugar. The medications used for angina are:
- Statins: These medications help lower cholesterol levels.
- Calcium channel blockers: These medications help lower blood pressure.
- Antiarrhythmics: These medications help regulate your heart rate.
Angina is common in people with heart disease, and it can be a sign of a heart attack.
Angina is usually not a heart attack and will go away on its own. If you have angina that doesn’t go away, see your doctor.
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