- Cardiologist Harmony Reynolds said she almost never eats foods like potato chips and cupcakes.
- She opts for healthy swaps like popcorn or fruit, and enjoys less healthy treats like bacon in moderation.
- Research suggests that processed foods increase the risk of serious illnesses like heart disease.
It’s unrealistic to try to follow a “perfect” diet all the time, but smart swaps can help keep your heart healthy without cutting out the snacks you love.
That’s according to NYU Langone cardiologist Dr. Harmony Reynolds, who said in a TikTok video for Everyday Health that she avoids foods like bacon and potato chips for a healthier heart.
Reynolds told Insider that it can be difficult to give dietary advice as a doctor because nutritional research often doesn’t provide clear answers on how foods can influence health.
“We need much better nutrition science. Many of the recommendations we make are based on limited evidence, which gives patients the impression that we often change our minds,” she said. declared.
Reynolds said that, based on available evidence, she chooses to avoid certain foods and uses strategies to eat less healthy foods in moderation.
Margarine and coconut oil linked to poorer heart health
Reynolds said she avoids margarine and vegetable oil because observational studies have suggested their consumption is associated with higher cardiovascular mortality, although it’s unclear why, as they don’t appear to increase heart rates. risk factors such as cholesterol.
Coconut oil is also of concern because it is made up of saturated fat, which has been linked to heart health risks.
“I learned to ask patients about this because I saw several patients whose LDL cholesterol increased because they introduced foods containing coconut oil,” Reynolds said.
Butter may even be a better alternative when used in moderation.
But olive oil is the healthier choice, according to research.
“People should cook with it whenever possible, and if using other fats, use as little as possible,” Reynolds says.
Potato chips are hard to eat in moderation
Reynolds said she didn’t eat potato chips or keep them at home because it was too easy to eat the whole bag.
“I know myself and I know that with all the best intentions of having two chips and putting them aside, it doesn’t work out that way,” she said.
She said popcorn can be a healthier alternative, or even fresh veggies if you’re craving a crunchy snack.
Reynolds said that for equally appetizing treats like chocolate bars, she will buy pre-portioned wrappers to make it easier to eat them in moderation.
She only eats bacon as a special treat
Plenty of evidence suggests that processed meat is linked to a higher risk of serious diseases like cancer and heart disease, compelling reasons to limit it in your diet, according to Reynolds.
“I don’t know what a safe amount is,” she said.
However, it is also a food she enjoys and eats a few times a year for special occasions.
“I think it helps people to know that people giving advice are human too. Patients can’t be perfect for dieting,” she said. “It’s important to recognize that there are times when you want to indulge and it’s not really productive to say I’ll never eat foods I like. It’s better, I think, d ‘try to eat less and trade in where you can.’
Replace processed desserts with dark chocolate to reduce unhealthy fats
Reynold said the final food group she tries to avoid is processed desserts like cookies and packaged donuts because they’re high in sugar and unhealthy fats, which are linked to health risks like diabetes and heart disease.
Fruit, yogurt, dark chocolate, and nuts might be healthier sweet treats. But again, moderation and self-awareness are key to enjoying food while minimizing potential health risks.
“When I’m at parties and there’s something I know isn’t healthy for me and I want to try it, I’ll take a taste and pay a lot of attention to it. If I like it, I let myself enjoy it. If I don’t like it, I put it aside,” she said.
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