It’s normal to reach for anything on the grocery store shelf that is labeled “heart healthy.” Since heart disease is the No. 1 killer among both men and women, it benefits all of us to eat better for our tickers. Unfortunately, some heart-healthy foods are falsely advertised. You could be putting something into your body that you think is good for you — but it could actually be deadly.
Not sure what foods have duped you into thinking they benefit this vital organ? Here are seven foods you should never buy again.
Remember the health food craze of the ‘90s when everything was “nonfat?” Well, it might be one of the most misleading fads of all time. The problem with taking the fat out of dairy products, like yogurt, is that the fat is replaced with artificial sweeteners and a bunch of fillers for flavor. And all that garbage will raise your blood sugar levels, putting you at a higher risk of heart disease. Take a cue from Cleveland Clinic and stick to plain yogurt, which is connected to good blood pressure and cholesterol.
This one might surprise you. Tea is supposed to be one of the healthiest things you can put into your body, right? To be clear, most loose-leaf teas are good for you, but the bottled teas we typically reach for at the store are loaded with heart-harming ingredients. This variety of tea, like Snapple, contains very little brewed tea, but enough added sugar to be as bad for you as a soda. The solution here is to stick to brewed tea, even if you prefer your tea on ice.
We’re talking about the store-bought “instant” oatmeal. Processing oatmeal so that it can be heated instantly breaks down the whole grain, removing its healthy properties and ability to keep you full. Add the sugar and salt for taste, and you now have a meal that will raise your blood pressure.
Diet and fitness expert Dr. Melina Jampolis for CNN recommends adding lean protein to instant oatmeal to make it healthier. But we recommend always going for the plain variety and then throwing in whatever you want from the get-go for a wholesome meal.
Granola bars are incredibly misleading. Surprisingly, granola bars are terrible for your heart. Prepackaged bars are loaded with so much syrup and artificial sweeteners that you might as well be eating a candy bar. Susan Moores, R.D., tells NBC News that sticking to a bar “with a short ingredients list” is a healthier route, although making your own granola at home — with whole grains, of course — is preferable.
Coffee is quite controversial when it comes to talking about your heart health. On one hand, the American Heart Association says that coffee is not directly linked to coronary heart disease. There are, however, additions to coffee-based drinks that can make them a health risk. Creamer, for example, is loaded with trans fat, which raises your cholesterol and your risk of a heart attack. Instead, try using milk instead of creamer in your morning cup of joe. Or, switch to tea for your caffeine fix.
Not all dishes labeled “salad” are created equal. And the pre-made variety, like chicken salad, can wreak havoc on your heart. The reason? All that added mayonnaise. As Livestrong.com explains, even a tablespoon of the white stuff is packed with artery-clogging cholesterol and blood pressure-spiking sodium.
The solution? Skip the store-bought stuff and make your own — it’s the best way to cut out the mayonnaise and other harmful ingredients.
Of course margarine is better for you than butter, but is it really that much better? Mayo Clinic points out that solid margarines, like the large sticks, are packed with extra trans fats. The added trans fats increase cholesterol levels in your blood, putting you at a higher risk of getting heart disease. Sticking to a liquid spread is preferable.
When buying margarine, always compare labels and go with the brand that packs the least trans and saturated fat. Or even better — stick with heart-healthy olive oil.