2 Artery-Clogging Desserts That Are So Bad For Your Heart, According To Experts

Woman eating a slice of chocolate cake
Woman eating a slice of chocolate cake

For a lot of us with a sweet tooth, desserts are one of the biggest obstacles when we start dieting. But, most desserts are high in unnecessary sugars, and moderating your intake of sugar is crucial for weight loss and your overall health. Specifically, eating too many sugar-filled, fattening, and high-calorie desserts can have a detrimental effect on your heart and can even end up clogging your arteries. Although many desserts are bad for your heart health if eaten in excess, there are two that take the cake (pun intended!).

To learn more about the worst artery-clogging desserts, we spoke with Veronica Rouse, a registered dietitian, and heart-healthy eating expert. She said that chocolate cake and pastries (like donuts and pie!) are so bad for your heart because they are made with high-sugar and high-fat ingredients which contribute to clogged arteries and heart disease. Find out more about these popular artery-clogging desserts and some healthy swaps below!

1. Chocolate Cake

Who doesn't love chocolate? A good chocolate cake is the star of the show at any birthday party, wedding, or really any other celebration—but it's certainly not topping any lists when it comes to healthy foods for your heart. "Chocolate cake is a high-fat dessert that is loaded with sugar and calories. It is made with butter, sugar, flour, eggs, and chocolate, all of which contribute to clogged arteries and heart disease," Rouse, who specializes in cardiac nutrition, says. "Chocolate cake is bad for your heart health because it contains saturated and trans fats, which can increase your levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease your levels of good cholesterol (HDL)." These fats can also lead to inflammation in your body, which can eventually cause heart disease.

Plus, if you're like us and need a scoop of ice cream with your chocolate cake, eating frozen desserts like ice cream can also end up clogging your heart's arteries. "Some frozen desserts, such as ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, and frozen pies, may contain partially hydrogenated oils, which are a source of trans fats. Eating too many trans fats can increase your LDL cholesterol, lower your HDL cholesterol levels and increase inflammation," she explains. Yikes!

So, it's best to reserve chocolate cake for special occasions and keep your slices to a minimum. And just because chocolate cake is bad for your heart health, that doesn't mean chocolate itself is unhealthy. In fact, Rouse notes that dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and contains flavonoids that are actually beneficial for your heart health. "Dark chocolate is a healthy dessert alternative because it contains flavonoids that can improve your blood flow and lower your blood pressure, reducing your risk of heart disease," she says. Instead of a slice of chocolate cake, you can enjoy a small piece of dark chocolate as a healthy heart dessert alternative.

2. Pastries

Similar to chocolate cake, pastries are made with sugar, flour, and butter which is a bad combination for your heart health. Eating too many pastries like donuts and pies can not only lead to clogged arteries but also high cholesterol. One pastry that Rouse advises against is apple pie.

"Apple pie is made with sugar, flour, butter, and apples, and the crust is usually made with butter. The combination of butter and sugar is a bad combination for your heart health as it can lead to high cholesterol and clogged arteries," Rouse explains. "Apple pie with a buttery crust is bad for your heart health because it contains saturated fats from butter and added sugars, which can increase your risk of heart disease."

Donuts are another pastry that can lead to inflammation, weight gain, and bad heart health. "[Donuts] are typically fried in oil that contains trans fats, which can make them high in saturated and trans fats," Rouse warns. This oil that donuts are made in can also cause bloating and indigestion. "Eating too many [donuts] can increase your risk of heart disease by increasing your LDL cholesterol and lowering your HDL cholesterol levels."

Instead of high-sugar, high-fat pastries like donuts and apple pie, Rouse suggests simply opting for fresh fruit. This is a healthy dessert alternative that is low in calories and high in fiber and antioxidants. "Fresh fruit is a healthy dessert alternative because it is low in calories and high in fiber and antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation in your body and improve your heart health," Rouse says. She recommends enjoying a bowl of mixed berries or a "sliced apple warmed in the microwave" with a dollop of Greek yogurt. If you're still worried about cholesterol levels, read about two ways to lower your cholesterol levels.

The Bottom Line

Overall, it's best to avoid high-sugar desserts like chocolate cake and pastries—not only for your waistline but also for your heart health. You can appease your sweet tooth with a yogurt parfait topped with natural sweeteners and fruit or some dark chocolate. Not only will eating these nutritious desserts help prevent clogged arteries, but they can also boost your metabolism for weight loss. It's a win-win!