4. DEEP-SIX PROCESSED FOODS "Refined foods have a lot of calories from processed flour, fat, and sugar, but they're poor in nutrients and phytochemicals," says Light. These products also tend to be high in salt, which in excess can raise blood pressure and stroke risk. And high-heat processing often destroys a lot of the nutrients and adds preservatives that may be associated with allergies, cancer, and asthma. Cautions Light, "If there are more than four unfamiliar chemical ingredients on the label, you can be sure it's a highly processed food." Skip refined foods like white flour and sugar that burn quickly, leaving you hungry soon afterward; avoid, too, anything with high-fructose corn syrup. Choose whole grains like whole wheat and oatmeal; if you crave sweets, eat fresh or dried fruits, which are full of fiber to slow digestion instead of spiking blood sugar.
5. FOCUS ON PLANT OILS By now, most of us know enough to avoid the hydrogenated oils (aka trans fats) and saturated fats that can clog arteries, raise "bad" LDL cholesterol, and increase the risk of heart attack. Limit corn and soy oils as well, they're treated with heat and may contain toxic ingredients created during processing. Instead, stick to organic plant oils like unrefined extra-virgin olive oil, a monounsaturated fat loaded with vitamin E antioxidants and a natural anti-inflammatory chemical called squalene that slows the formation of blood clots. Other good sources of heart-healthy fats include nuts (especially walnuts and almonds), flaxseed and flaxseed oil, and fish.