Butter is naturally high in saturated fats, but when compared to margarine spread, butter is actually the better alternative. Margarine, which is typically made from vegetable oils, is hydrogenated, which means the chemical structure of the oil is altered to make the oil solid at room temperature. This causes elevated LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and the body recognizes it as more of a poison, than food.
How to enjoy: Satisfy your butter cravings in small amounts! Try ghee, or clarified butter, which is actually anti-inflammatory and contains vitamins A and E.
Honey vs. Calorie-Free Artificial Sweeteners
The worst “healthy” substitutes for sugar are high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. Most processed goods today contain high-fructose corn syrup, which can lead to a fatty liver and pre-diabetic conditions when eaten in large quantities. Don’t reach for the diet soda, either: aspartame and other artificial sweeteners contain scary carcinogens (like formaldehyde) that have severe toxic effects in the body.
How to enjoy: try raw honey (in small quantities), or natural plant-based stevia.
Whole Milk Yogurt vs. Low-Fat Yogurt
Low-fat dairy is healthier than full-fat dairy, right? Wrong! In fact, regular consumption of full-fat dairy products is associated with long-term weight loss, according to this 2013 study. This may be because the fat content in whole milk yogurt is more filling, which could satisfy hunger for longer.
How to enjoy: organic, whole milk, unflavored yogurt packs the highest nutritional punch.
Natural Peanut Butter vs. Reduced Fat Peanut Butter
All types of peanut butter are high in fat, but which is the best option? Reduced fat peanut butter is actually pumped full of added carbs, salt and sugar in order to make up for the lost fat content. This makes the best option natural peanut butter, which is made using only peanuts.
How to enjoy: try natural peanut butter made with unroasted peanuts, which is a great cholesterol-free snack.
Red Wine vs. Low-Calorie Spirits
So you want to treat yourself this weekend to a drink: what do you choose? Red wine contains resveratrol, which is a type of antioxidant that can help reduce bad cholesterol. This effect is limited to only one 5 oz. glass a day, so restraint is key for a healthy heart.
How to enjoy: try a glass of red wine instead of “low calorie” spirits like vodka, or tequila.