Cardiologists! They think they’re so great, with their anatomical heart models and ascetic dietary advice. But come on. Under those white coats, they’re people, too, just like you and me, right? Which means they enjoy cold hot dogs dipped in cans of chocolate frosting, washed down with rum & Coke.
Just kidding. That’s not most people’s idea of a good time -- which is a good thing, because eating too much of the wrong stuff can actually kill you. Since cardiologists try to keep that from happening to their patients -- and presumably themselves -- what foods do they consider unhealthy enough to ban from their homes? Six cardiologists spill the beans (which, by the way, you should definitely eat, because beans are super heart-healthy).
"I usually avoid red meat as much as feasibly possible -- the burgers and buns and heavily salted red meat stuff. In Western civilization, a lot of stuff we’re trained to eat increases heart attacks and obesity and diabetes. You have to find a little bit of an in between, but yeah, I basically stay away from red meat." -Dr. Ronald J. Scheib, cardiologist and Medical Director of Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa
"I try to avoid fatty red meats, [such as] very fatty steaks. [But] you can cut the fat off." -- Dr. Robert Kloner, Director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at Huntington Medical Research Institutes
Soda, both diet and regular versions
"Drinking soda has serious consequences. Regular soda promotes an insulin spike, which leads to weight gain and can cause a host of metabolic disorders. Beyond sugar, soda has phosphoric acid, which can promote osteoporosis and may be a cancer-causing agent. As for diet soda, it can lead to the same spike and risk of metabolic disease; a recent study indicated that excessive drinking can counterintuitively lead to weight gain." -Dr. Adam Splaver, board certified in cardiology and internal medicine
"I definitely stay away from highly processed meat, bacon, hot dogs, things that have a lot of sodium or preservatives." -Dr. Jennifer Haythe, cardiologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Columbia-Presbyterian in NYC
"[Processed meats] are all pretty bad -- bacon is very high in fat and the lunch meats are all the same, even the turkey. If you want a turkey sandwich, I’d get fresh-cut turkey." -Dr. Nieca Goldberg, cardiologist and Director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women's Health Center at NYU Langone Medical Center
Store-bought pastries (Twinkies, croissants, etc.)
"If I have to narrow it down to things I never eat, it would be soda and pastries. Baked goods generally have no nutritional value and often contain hidden saturated fat and hydrogenated shortenings, which may raise LDL (bad cholesterol). The added sugar is high in fructose, which can overload your liver and cause insulin resistance, which can lead to metabolic disorders including type 2 diabetes. Is that custard-filled éclair really worth the risks?" -- Dr. Splaver
"Packaged baked goods -- we don’t buy those because of the fat content. Generally, when we have dessert we eat fresh fruit." -- Dr. Goldberg.
Food that is heavy on dairy
"I try to avoid heavy foods with lots of saturated fats, milk that isn’t low fat, heavy cream [or] ice cream with a high fat content." -- Dr. Robert Kloner, Director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at Huntington Medical Research Institutes:
"I avoid creamy, buttery products, and as much as I love it, I try to avoid cheese." -Dr. Scheib
Anything that might have been in a 1950s-era bomb shelter (bonus points if it's preservative-laden enough to be edible today)
"I avoid ramen noodles, soda, processed cheese products like Cheez Whiz, hot dogs, and canned meats like Spam and Vienna sausages, and frosting in a jar*." -Dr. Victoria Shin, cardiologist with Torrance Memorial Physicians Network