Just how inconvenient are convenience foods on your heart health?

Talk about a recipe that spells disaster for the heart…

A major study by researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the CDC — has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that convenience foods add up to a serious problem for your heart health.

Killing your heart is not “convenient”

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) collected over a period of six years, researchers at the CDC reviewed the results from over 13,400 people.

Each person completed a survey on their diet. They also answered questions about their heart health and the researchers rated them on the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 (a measurement that can predict the risk of heart problems), looking at:

  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Blood glucose levels
  • Whether or not they used void tobacco products
  • Good nutrition
  • Healthy body weight
  • Level of physical activity

And, they came to a very simple, but powerful, conclusion…

The more convenience foods (or ultra-processed foods) you eat, the more likely you are to have heart problems.

In fact, the research showed that for every 5 percent increase in calories from ultra-processed foods a person ate, their heart health went down by 5 percent as well.

So, by that measure, if you eat 30 percent more of your calories from these types of foods than usual, your heart health would decline by 30 percent!

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Brings your heart health down by half

And, while that might sound like an exaggerated number, let’s take an honest look at the statistics…

Ultra-processed foods already account for more than half of an average American’s daily calories!

Pretty scary, right?

Well, it’s even scarier when you consider one additional finding of that CDC study…

The researchers found that people who ate approximately 70 percent of their calories from ultra-processed foods were half as likely to have “ideal” cardiovascular health (based on that Simple 7 scale), compared with people who ate 40 percent or less of their calories from those foods.

Steps to cut down on convenience foods

So, what kinds of “foods” fall into that dangerous group of ultra-processed garbage?

  • Soft drinks
  • Packaged salty snacks
  • Cookies
  • Cakes
  • Processed meats
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Powdered and packaged instant soups

These foods contain unhealthy fats, starches, hydrogenated fats, added sugar, modified starch and other compounds, including artificial flavors, colors or emulsifiers.

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Put simply, anything that you would consider “convenience foods” is a danger to your heart — and should be avoided.

Here are some simple tips I found to start reducing my risks from these foods. They might help you as well:

#1 – Start Small

This is going to make me sound like a terrible mom, but during this time of the year, eating out happens far too often (four out of seven days at last count).

But I know that going cold turkey isn’t going to happen.

So instead, we’ve decided that two days a week until the New Year is acceptable as a baby step and then we’ll cut that in half again.

#2 – Make Substitutions

It’s important to note that ultra-processed foods include things like white breads and rice which makes limiting these types of foods extremely important.

Luckily, it’s easy to substitute whole grain bread or brown rice and still get the quick sandwich or carb fix you’re looking for.

Other heart-healthy substitutions include:

  • Switching out two meals of red meat for fish each week
  • Ditching the sugar and using natural sweeteners like stevia or agave
  • Picking organic, non-cured luncheon meats instead of your old standby
  • Making healthy chips at home using carrots, zucchini, kale or sweet potatoes

#3 – Add in Fresh Foods

Keeping a supply of fresh, healthy foods within easy reach makes sticking to your guns and giving up convenience foods easier.

For example, set out a basket of fresh fruit on your kitchen counter, keep raw veggies front and center where you’ll see them when you open your refrigerator, and pack a healthy snack in your purse or car.

#4 – Plan Ahead

The easiest way to derail your new heart health goals and end up in the drive-thru lane again is to wonder what you’re going to have for supper once you’re already hungry.

That’s why I’ve made a new resolution to plan and shop for all our meals for the next week every Saturday to eliminate last-minute food issues.

Finally, remember to not be too hard on yourself. While it’s vital to give up convenience foods if you want to protect your heart, we will all have slips. Give yourself time. Give yourself grace. But, most of all give yourself the chance at the health you want for life.

Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!


  1. Too much ultra-processed food linked to lower heart health — American Heart Association
Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.