Sometimes it seems like the only thing nutrition experts can agree on is that the sky is blue and the sun is hot.
With all the conflicting information out there, and new research emerging by the day, it can be nearly impossible for the average person to keep up.
Which is why it can feel an awful lot like shooting in the dark every time you fill up your grocery cart.
And that’s especially true when it comes to eating for heart health. Because mainstream medicine keeps on pedaling some outdated dietary myths.
Debunking dangerously outdated heart health myths
In fact, many items on their “forbidden foods” list aren’t ONLY heart-safe… in some cases, they’re GOOD for your ticker.
But these heart-health myths have real staying power. Following are four foods you can safely remove from the naughty list.
In the 80s and 90s, there was an explosion of low-fat EVERYTHING hitting grocery store shelves. And unfortunately, even though science has thoroughly debunked this approach to eating the low-fat myth persists.
But here’s the truth: If you want to live healthier for longer, you need all the good fats you can get.
I’m not just talking about omega-3s from fatty fish and nuts, either. Monounsaturated fats, from foods like olive oil and avocados, are just as vital to your heart health. And both are cornerstones of the Mediterranean diet—which crushes a low-fat diet when it comes to heart disease prevention.
But brace yourself. It turns out even saturated fat isn’t the boogie man the mainstream has led us all to believe. In fact, in published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded “…no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD.”
In other words, eating a reasonable amount of saturated fats in fresh, whole foods, such as grass-fed meats, is isn’t bad for your heart health. (Keep reading for more on red meat.)
There’s one exception here. And that’s trans fat. There’s nothing healthy about this artery-clogging garbage. But if you’re sticking with those fresh, whole, unprocessed foods—and steering clear of processed junk—there’s little chance you’ll cross paths with too much of the stuff.
2. Red meat:
Let’s be clear—a Big Mac is never going to do your heart any favors. Conventionally raised meat is loaded with all kinds of undesirable extras—from growth hormones to pesticides to inflammation-stoking fats.
But that doesn’t mean that all red meat is a death sentence. In fact, meat from pasture-raised livestock could even be considered a bona fide heart health food—delivering disease-fighting omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) with every serving.
Ultimately, research shows no link between an occasional juicy steak and heart disease. Processed meats, like hot dogs and cold cuts, are a completely different story. Stick with high-quality beef from animals that ate nothing but grass their entire lives, and you’re good to go.
The mainstream couldn’t possibly have missed the mark further than they have with eggs. Conventional medicine spent years painting eggs as heart-stopping artery-cloggers.
But they were flat out WRONG. In fact, the much-maligned egg has emerged as a bit of a heart health HERO.
It’s true that a whole egg can contain over 200 mg of cholesterol. And that’s where the myth got started. But that you could eat up to a dozen eggs a week, and it won’t increase your heart disease risk.
And, in fact, one study found that when folks ate two eggs a day for six weeks, their HDL (GOOD) cholesterol shot up by 10 percent.
And then there are the nutrients—including vitamin D, choline, and lutein—you’ll find concentrated in that yellow yolk.
In other words, forget the egg white omelet. A whole egg is about as perfect a heart health food as you’ll find.
You can blame fast food—whether it comes from a drive-thru, or out of a box, bag, or can—for this common myth. Highly processed food is packed with junk sodium (not to mention a long list of other heart-stopping additives).
Nobody needs THAT much salt in his or her diet. But that doesn’t mean you have to swear off the salt shaker forever.
Switch to a high-quality salt like Himalayan salt to avoid unwanted additives while increasing your levels of some vital trace minerals. And make sure you’re getting an adequate amount of potassium in your diet. Because in the end, it often comes down to the balance between the two.
Unless you happen to be salt sensitive, in most cases a moderate amount of salt is perfectly heart healthy. In fact, not getting enough salt can be equally dangerous for your heart.
A recent study published in The Lancet showed that moderate salt intake has no effect on heart health… but very low levels raise your risk of heart attack and stroke significantly. Translation: A dash of Himalayan or sea salt here or there is more than just fine—it might even save your life.
It’s time to stop believing these outdated mainstream heart health myths. Start enjoying these perfectly healthy “forbidden” foods in moderation again.