A cardiologist shares 5 foods she almost never eats, from coconut oil to chips — and suggests healthier alternatives

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Cardiologist Harmony Reynolds said she almost never eats foods like potato chips and snack cakes.
She opts for healthy alternatives like popcorn or fruit and enjoys less healthy treats like bacon in moderation.
Research suggests that processed foods increase the risk of serious diseases, such as heart disease.
It's not realistic to try to follow a "perfect" diet all the time — but smart swaps can help you keep your heart healthy without skimping on snacks you enjoy.
That says Dr. Harmony Reynolds, a cardiologist at NYU Langone, who in a TikTok video for Everyday Health said she avoids foods like bacon and potato chips for a healthier heart.
Reynolds told Insider that giving nutrition advice as a doctor can be difficult because nutrition research often doesn't provide clear answers about how food can affect health.
“We need so much more nutritional 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 often," she said.
Reynolds said based on available evidence, she chooses to avoid certain foods and uses strategies to enjoy less healthy foods in moderation.
Margarine and coconut oil have been linked to poorer heart health
Reynolds said she avoids margarine and vegetable oil because observational studies suggest their consumption is associated with higher cardiovascular mortality, although it's not clear why, as they don't appear to increase risk factors like cholesterol.
Coconut oil is also of concern because it is made up of saturated fats, which are linked to heart health risks.
"I learned to ask patients about this because I saw several patients whose LDL cholesterol went up because they introduced foods containing coconut oil," Reynolds said.
Butter can be an even better alternative when used in moderation.
But olive oil is the healthiest choice, according to research.
"People should cook with it whenever possible, and if they're using other fats, use as little as possible," Reynolds said.
Potato chips are difficult to eat in moderation
Reynolds said she doesn't eat potato chips or keeps them at home because it's too easy to eat the whole bag.
"I know myself and know that with the best of intentions, having two potato chips and putting it aside doesn't work that way," she said.
She said popcorn can be a healthier alternative, or even fresh veggies if you're in the mood for a crunchy snack.
Reynolds said that for similarly craving treats like candy bars, she will buy pre-portioned packets to make it easier to enjoy them in moderation.
She only eats bacon as a special treat
Ample evidence suggests that processed meat is linked to a higher risk of serious diseases like cancer and heart disease, which Reynolds says are compelling reasons to limit it in your diet.
"I don't know what a safe amount is," she said.
However, it's also a food she enjoys eating and eats a few times a year on special occasions.
"I think it helps people to know that the people giving advice are people too. Patients cannot be perfect at following a diet," she said. "It's important to realize that there are times when you want something tasty and it's not really productive to say I'll never eat foods I like.
Swap out processed desserts for dark chocolate to cut down on unhealthy fats
Reynold said the last food group she tries to avoid is processed desserts, like packaged cookies and 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 confidence 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 take a taste and pay close attention to it. If I love it, I enjoy it. If I don't love it, I put it aside," she said.
Read the original article on Insider

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