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Research shows that making healthy eating choices can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. In celebration of Independence Day and cookouts everywhere, the American Heart Association recommends making the following choices for a heart-healthy Fourth of July.
Make smarter meat choices when grilling.
Fish and chicken are healthy alternative to red meats such as beef and pork. Red meats have more cholesterol and saturated fats, which can raise blood cholesterol and make heart disease worse. In fact, the unsaturated fats in fish such as salmon may reduce the risk of heart disease.
To lower the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol when eating red meat, choose lean cuts such as “round,” “sirloin” or “loin.” When eating any meat, it is important to use healthy cooking methods like baking, broiling, stewing and grilling.
Grill fruits or veggies and use whole grain buns.
Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber and low in calories. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables can help control weight and blood pressure. Try grilling fruits like pineapple slices, nectarines, peaches or plums – the natural sugars caramelize with the heat and give them great flavor.
The American Heart Association recommends eating six to eight servings of grain foods a day, especially whole grains. Whole-grain foods are healthy because they contain fiber. A diet high in fiber can help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Fiber causes food to stay in your stomach longer, so you feel full and your blood sugar doesn’t go up as quickly after you eat. Whole-grain, high-fiber breads and rolls add more flavor and texture to the meal.
Other heart-healthy barbeque tips:
Instead of potato chips, which can be high in saturated and trans fats, serve raw veggies such as cucumber, carrot and celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli and cauliflower florets with a low-fat dip.
Drink water or diet soda. Regular sodas are loaded with sugars and calories.
Choose low-fat, reduced-fat or fat-free cheese for your sandwiches and hamburgers.
Watch the salt – cut back on salty seasonings and condiments like teriyaki, soy and barbecue sauce.
Remember that good nutrition is essential for heart health. Even these few simple changes in diet can make a big difference in the fight against heart disease and other health risks. For more information on heart healthy eating, visit the American Heart Association website at heart.org.
From the American Heart Association