5 Foods I Almost Never Eat, and Some Healthy Swaps

  • Cardiologist Harmony Reynolds said she almost never eats foods like potato chips and snack cakes.
  • She prefers healthy swaps like popcorn or fruit and enjoys less healthy treats like bacon in moderation.
  • Studies show that processed foods increase the risk of serious diseases such as heart disease.

Trying to follow the “perfect” diet all the time isn’t realistic—but smart swaps can help keep your heart healthy without cutting out the snacks you love.

NYU Langone cardiologist Dr. According to Harmony Reynolds, this 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 as a doctor, giving dietary advice can be difficult because nutrition research often doesn’t give clear answers about how foods can affect health.

“We need a lot more of properly conducted nutritional science. Many of the recommendations we make are based on limited evidence, which leaves patients with the impression that we often change our minds,” he said.

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Based on the available evidence, Reynolds said he prefers to avoid certain foods and uses strategies to enjoy less healthy foods in moderation.

Margarine and coconut oil are linked to worse heart health

Reynolds said he avoided margarine and vegetable oil because observational studies suggest that consuming margarine and vegetable oils is associated with higher cardiovascular mortality, but it’s not clear why, as they don’t increase risk factors like cholesterol.

Coconut oil is also of concern because it’s made up of saturated fats and has been linked to heart health risks.

“I learned to ask patients this because I was seeing multiple patients whose LDL cholesterol was elevated because they were offered foods containing coconut oil,” Reynolds said.

Butter can be a better alternative when used in moderation.

However, studies show that olive oil is the healthiest choice.

“People should cook with it wherever possible, and if they’re using other oils, they should use as little as possible,” Reynolds said.

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Potato chips are hard to eat in moderation

Reynolds said she doesn’t eat or keep potato chips at home because it’s too easy to eat the whole bag.

“I know myself and with the best intentions of buying two potato chips and putting them aside, I know it didn’t work out that way,” he said.

If you’re craving a crunchy snack, popcorn might be a healthier alternative, or even something like fresh veggies, she said.

For similarly craving treats, such as chocolate, Reynolds said it will purchase pre-sharpened packets to make it easier to enjoy in moderation.

He only eats bacon as a special treat.

According to Reynolds, extensive evidence suggests that processed meat is linked to a higher risk of serious diseases such as cancer and heart disease, and there are compelling reasons to limit it in your diet.

“I don’t know what a safe amount is,” he said.

However, it is also a dish that he loves very much and eats on special occasions several times a year.

“I think it helps people know that people giving advice are people too. Patients can’t be great at dieting,” he said. “It’s important to acknowledge that there are times when you want a feast, and it’s really not fruitful to say I’ll never eat the foods I enjoy. Better, I think, try to eat less and swap as much as possible.”

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Replace processed sweets with dark chocolate to cut down on unhealthy fats

The last group of foods she tries to avoid are processed sweets like packaged cookies and scones, as they’re high in sugar and unhealthy fats and have been linked to health risks like diabetes and heart disease, Reynold said.

Fruit, yogurt, or dark chocolate and nuts can be a healthier dessert. However, moderation and self-awareness are key to enjoying food while minimizing potential health risks.

“At parties, when something I know is not healthy for me and I want to try it, I take a taste and pay close attention. If I like it, I let it go. I don’t like it, I put it aside,” she said.

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