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Recipes & Nutrition,

Heart Healthy Grilling Tips

family bbq with a heart healthy menu

Summer is barbecue season. However, many traditional barbecue foods can be bad for your heart. Loaded with fat, salt, and sugar, these foods can increase your risk of heart disease and complications like heart failure or stroke.

But you don’t have to give up the summer barbecue to stay healthy. Nor do you have to give up flavor. Following these tips will help make sure you get to enjoy grilling without sacrificing your health.

Select Healthy Proteins

Starting with a good healthy protein goes a long way toward making your meal healthier. Instead of country-style ribs or brats, choose healthier proteins, such as fish or skinless chicken breast. You can even choose to grill tofu steaks.

Choose fish with healthy fats, such as salmon. Or go fishing for some delicious high-country trout, which also has heart-healthy fats.

Evidence suggests that eating too much red meat is inherently bad for your heart, but if you absolutely must have beef, at least choose leaner cuts. Bison is a great alternative over beef because it is generally 25% lower in calories and has less saturated fats.

Trim the Fat

No matter what kind of meat you choose, you should consider making it leaner by trimming the fat. With beef or pork, cut off all visible fat. Remove the skin from the chicken prior to grilling and cut away any visible fat.

Grilling can also help get rid of fat—if you let the fat drip away from your food.

Control Your Portions

Ideally, a healthy portion of meat should be about 3-4 ounces, typically about the size of the palm of your hand. We understand that on grilling day you can get a little greedy, but don’t get out of hand. Instead of a whole second serving, split one if you absolutely can’t stop at one.

Remind yourself about how good leftovers will be – and that eating heart-healthy can mean you will enjoy many more grilling seasons.

Skip the Sauce

We know that many people love barbecue sauce, but commercial sauces are full of many things that are bad for your heart, like sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, fat, and salt. Cutting out barbecue sauce or making your own, will make your grilling much healthier.

Build Flavor with Marinades and Rubs

Giving up barbecue sauce doesn’t mean you’ll have flavorless grilled food. Instead, you can actually have more flavorful foods if you take the simple steps of marinating or rubbing your food.

A marinade takes a little bit of planning. Allow 1-2 hours for beef or chicken to marinate, or 1 hour for fish. A rub, on the other hand, can be applied just before cooking in many cases. Just make sure that you’re not adding back in all the fat, sugar, and salt you cut out with the sauce. Make your own marinade so you can control what’s in it.

Grill Fruits and Vegetables

grilled vegetable skewers for a heart healthy dietGrilled veggies supply you with healthy antioxidants, add flavor, and help you eat less unhealthy sides like baked beans, creamy coleslaw, or potato salad. Grilled fruits can take the place of pies, cobblers, and ice cream for dessert.

Most fruits and vegetables do great on the grill. You can keep them from sticking by using a healthy oil or put them in a grilling basket to cook some of the smaller pieces. You might also try a skewer. This works great for the early summer strawberry season.

Experiment to learn the best places to put the veggies so they get the right amount of heat and cut them into proper shapes and sizes so they’re ready at the right time.

Cut Down on the Alcohol

We know that for many people, it’s as natural to have a beer, glass of wine, or cocktail in your hand while grilling as it is to have a spatula or tongs.

However, too much alcohol is bad for your heart. Enjoy a drink or two on grilling days, but make sure you’re not overdoing it.

South Denver Cardiology Associates Support Great Living That’s Good for Your Heart

It’s possible to live a great life full of delicious food and fun times while keeping your heart healthy. At South Denver Cardiology Associates, we encourage our patients to get the most quality and quantity they can out of life.

To support our mission, we offer many programs at our facility, including nutritional counseling. We also offer diagnostic testing that helps you check in on the health of your heart to head off problems.

To learn how we can help you enjoy life while staying healthy, please contact us today.

South Denver Cardiology
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