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4 'health' foods that could be hurting your heart and what to eat instead

Reading labels and sticking to whole foods is best
health food
Posted at 7:22 AM, Jan 23, 2023

You're all ready to start eating healthier and you've revamped your fridge — but some of those newfound "health" foods could be hurting your heart.

Cardiologists are flagging foods you might have considered to be among the healthiest, and our ABC15 Health Insider Dr. Shad Marvasti agrees.

Yogurt & granola

A cup of yogurt and some granola sounds like a balanced breakfast but Dr. Shad says most granola and breakfast bars are also packed with sugar, a leading culprit in diabetes which can also lead to heart disease.

"They also sometimes add other oils, like hydrogenated oils, that can cause inflammation."

You can minimize the risk by making the granola yourself and sticking with a cleaner oil like coconut oil. Dr. Shad points out the same sugary issue with some of the most popular flavored yogurts. He says you're better off getting plain Greek yogurt and adding your own toppings like fruit, maple syrup, or raw honey.

Smoothies & green juice

One of the most common ways to start the day when you're dieting is with a smoothie or green juice, but the balance of how much fruit it takes to make both is off.

"Green juice is juice. Apple juice or orange juice as a base. It's really a sugary beverage at that point," said Dr. Shad, who also says you lose valuable fiber by juicing.

"When you eat the greens, you get the fiber, and fiber can reduce bad cholesterol."

He suggests sticking with antioxidant-packed berries for smoothies and adding avocado for healthy fats.

Low or no-fat dressing

Leafy greens have fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, which require some fat for the body to unlock the benefit of each.

"When you actually have fat with a salad it increases the absorption of the nutrients by up to 200%," Dr. Shad says.

He warns you don't drown your salad in dressing, and points out the best fats come from making your own dressing with olive oil. You can also add healthy fats to your salad like avocado or fish.

Store-bought rotisserie chicken

Store-bought birds are roasted and ready to go, making them an easy and seemingly healthy dinner option but there's a wolf in this hen house and its name is sodium.

"Sometimes they inject salt into the skin of the chicken as well to add more flavor, then you're getting way more salt than you need which can increase blood pressure. And chicken isn't really a health food either."

Bottom line

Avoiding excess sugar and salt makes it important to pay attention to nutrition labels.

Make meals yourself as often as possible using whole foods.

Following the Mediterranean and DASH diets can also help guide you toward better heart health.