Long Branch, NJ – Summer is heating up and so is the season for vacations and barbecues. With Independence Day just around the corner, millions of Americans are planning to enjoy time with family and friends. While we celebrate the warm weather and the summer days ahead, it’s important that we remain focused on maintaining a healthy diet – one of our best weapons in fighting cardiovascular disease and other heart conditions.
The Barnabas Health Heart Center at Monmouth Medical Center offers these suggestions for heart-smart eating this summer season:
- Summer is the perfect time to enjoy fresh fruit and produce. Stop by your local Farmers’ Market or community garden. Try to fit in at least 2 cups of fruit and 2½ to 3 cups of vegetables each day. It’s packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other essential nutrients, and it’s virtually fat- and cholesterol-free.
- Cut back on high-fat foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, trans fat, and saturated fat.
- Limit ice cream, cakes, cookies, pastries, muffins, pies, and doughnuts. Freezing fresh fruit such as bananas or grapes can be a cool, refreshing summertime dessert.
- Fit in fish at least twice a week. Recent research shows that eating fish such as salmon, trout, and herring, all of which contain omega-3 fatty acids, may help lower your risk for death from coronary artery disease.
- Read and compare food labels. To use food labels effectively, first look at how many servings the package contains, and then look at the calories and fat per serving. Multiply the calories and fat by the number of servings you’re going to eat.
- Cut back on high-cholesterol foods as cheese, eggs, red meat and liver.
- Limit sugary beverages such as soda or juice with added sugar. Water is your best bet to beat the summer heat. If you drink alcoholic beverages, limit your intake to one drink per day for women and two for men.
- Prepare foods with little or no added salt. The American Heart Association recommends that all Americans aim to eat no more than 2,400 mg of sodium per day.
- After you purchase nutritious foods, make certain you prepare them in a healthy manner. Grilling meats is a great option. Remember to remove the skin before eating poultry.
For more information about heart-healthy food choices and cooking options, visit the Barnabas Health Health Library at healthlibrary.barnabashealth.org .