- Cardiologist Harmony Reynolds said she never eats foods like potato chips and snack cookies.
- She opts for healthy swaps like popcorn or fruit, and enjoys a less healthy treat like bacon in moderation.
- Research shows that processed foods increase the risk of serious diseases such as heart disease.
It’s not realistic to try to eat a “perfect” diet all the time — but smart swaps can help you keep your heart healthy without cutting out the snacks you enjoy.
Reynolds told Insider that it can be difficult to give nutritional advice as a doctor because nutrition research often doesn’t provide clear answers about how food affects health.
“We need nutrition science done right. A lot of the recommendations we make are based on limited evidence, which leaves patients with the impression that we change our minds too often,” she said.
Reynolds said that, based on available evidence, she chooses to avoid certain foods and uses strategies to enjoy less healthy food in moderation.
Margarine and coconut oil are linked to poor heart health
Reynolds said she avoids margarine and vegetable oils because Observational studies They suggested that taking them is associated with a higher rate of cardiovascular mortality, although it is not clear why, as they do not appear to increase risk factors such as cholesterol.
Coconut Oil Also of concern, because it consists of saturated fat, and has been linked to heart health risks.
“I’ve learned to ask patients about this because I’ve been seeing so many patients whose LDL cholesterol goes up because they’ve been introduced to foods that contain coconut oil,” Reynolds said.
ghee It may also be a better alternative when used in moderation.
But olive oil is the healthiest optionresearch suggests.
“People should cook with it as often as possible, and if they use other fats, they should use as little as possible,” Reynolds said.
It’s hard to eat potato chips in moderation
Reynolds said she doesn’t eat Potato Chips Or keep it at home because it’s so easy to eat the whole bag.
“I know myself and I know that with all the best intentions of having chipotle chips aside, it just doesn’t work that way,” she said.
She said popcorn can be a healthy alternative, or even a fresh vegetable if you’re craving a crunchy snack.
For enticing treats like chocolate bars, Reynolds said she will buy pre-packaged treats to make it easier to enjoy in moderation.
She only eats bacon as a special treat
Plenty of evidence points to an association with processed meats Increased risk of serious diseases such as cancer And heart disease, are compelling reasons to reduce them in your diet, according to Reynolds.
She said “I don’t know what is a safe amount”.
However, it is also a food that you enjoy and eat several times a year for special occasions.
“I think it helps people to know that the people giving the advice are people too. Patients can’t be perfect in dieting,” she said. “It’s important to realize that there are times when you want a treat and it’s not really productive to say I’ll never eat foods I enjoy. It’s best, I think, to try to eat less and make swaps where you can.”
Replace processed sweets with dark chocolate to reduce unhealthy fats
The final food group she tries to stay away from, Reynolds said, is processed sweets like packaged cakes and donuts, because they’re high in sugar and unhealthy fats, which are linked to Health risks such as diabetes and heart disease.
Fruit, yogurt, dark chocolate, and nuts can be healthy sweet foods. 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 that I want to try, I’ll take one taste and pay a lot of attention. If I like it, I allow myself to enjoy it. If she says ‘I don’t like it,’ I put it down.”