Eating Healthy Foods: Test Your Food IQ

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Filed Under: Cholesterol, Food and Nutrition
Last Reviewed 02/16/2014

Eating Healthy Foods: Test Your Food IQ

As I’ve long said, sugar--not cholesterol--is the real villain when it comes to heart disease. Naturally, that begs the question about foods you can eat and which foods you should avoid.

Test your “food IQ” and get the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions I receive on eating healthy foods.

Are You Eating Healthy Foods?

To ensure that you’re eating healthy foods, Dr. Sinatra answers some of the most common questions he gets about certain foods, and offers alternatives to unhealthy food choices.

Q: If saturated fats are heart-healthy, is it okay to eat steak every day? 

A: While saturated fats are heart healthy, it’s still important to eat a balanced diet so I recommend limiting beef to once or twice a week. You just want to make sure you’re choosing grass-fed beef, which is usually raised organically—so it’s not filled with antibiotics, steroids, hormones or inflammatory omega-6 fats. 

Q: Which is better for cooking, coconut or vegetable oil? 

A: The hands-down winner is coconut oil. Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA)—not the long-chain fatty acids found in most oils—so it's heart healthy. In fact those MCFAs have an effect similar to omega-3 fatty acids, so they make blood platelets less sticky. As for vegetable oil, avoid it. That’s because vegetable oil is damaged in cooking, making it vulnerable to harmful oxidation.

Q: Are eggs a heart-smart choice? 

A: Eggs are perfectly fine to eat. I eat four to six DHA-fortified, cage-free eggs per week. Eggs contain magnesium and sulfur, plus the egg white is full of protein. But there’s one thing I should mention if you’re eating a lot of conventionally produced eggs. Men who eat more than six eggs a week have a higher rate of prostate problems. So when it comes to eggs, go with the cage-free and DHA-fortified variety.

Q: Which is better, margarine or butter? 

A: I prefer organic butter. Just make sure you scrape off any dark areas that develop as the butter is exposed to air, because it means that portion of the butter has oxidized. 

Q: Is it ever okay to eat sugar? 

A: Sugar is inflammatory, so you want to avoid it as much as possible. But if you have a sweet tooth, I’ll tell you what I do. I love dark chocolate—60 percent or 70 percent cacao. It satisfies my sweet tooth. Plus, the polyphenols in the dark chocolate can protect your heart. Would I eat chocolate at every meal? Of course not. But having it a small amount a few times a week is perfectly okay.

Now it’s your turn: How did you do? Were there any surprises in this quiz?

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