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Best Heart-Healthy Foods for the Grill

Grilling is a very popular way to cook food, especially in the summer. About 75 percent of American households have an outdoor grill or smoker, according to statistics presented by the news outlet CNN. Though Memorial Day, Father’s Day, and Labor Day are popular grilling days, Independence Day is the most popular holiday for grilling, with 87 percent of people firing up the barbeque to celebrate.

Hamburgers are the most popular food for grilling; 63 percent of “Grill Masters” confess to cooking hamburgers most often, along with the popular options of hot dogs and steak. A steady diet of hamburgers, hot dogs, and steak, however, is not terribly good for the health of your heart.

So what can you cook on the grill that is healthy for your heart? Plenty, as it turns out!

Best Grilled Foods Your Heart (and Your Taste Buds) will Love!

Lean protein, such as skinless chicken breast, fresh fish, and lean ground poultry are healthier choices than beef or pork. Certain fish, such as salmon and trout, contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids that can decrease the risk of abnormal heartbeats, lower triglyceride levels, slow the accumulation of plaque within arteries, and even lower blood pressure slightly. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish each week.

Chicken and lean ground poultry contain less saturated fat than beef and pork. Saturated fat raises cholesterol levels in the blood, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Grilled vegetables taste amazing and provide the vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber you need for a healthy heart. Asparagus, bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, and onions contain vitamin B6, folate, antioxidants known as carotenoids, and phytochemicals known to provide health benefits for your heart. They also taste fabulous hot off the grill or as part of another heart-healthy recipe.

Spice up your chicken, fish, or vegetables with spice rubs and herb mixtures. Using herbs and spices reduces the need for salt, which can raise your blood pressure. Help the flavor seep into your food by mixing the herbs and spices with olive oil, which contain the healthiest dietary fat known as monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) that can lower your cholesterol levels.

To optimize the cardiovascular benefits of grilled foods and to let the natural flavors shine, be sparing with salty sauces, sugary condiments, and heavy dressings. Add a squeeze of lemon or lime to add flavor. Try making your own condiments with fresh ingredients.

Enjoy the grill without the guilt this year — choose heart-healthy foods for your cookouts. Need more suggestions on heart-healthy foods to try this summer? Schedule an appointment with Virtual Imaging at 770-730-0119 to help make your summer the healthiest yet!