With summer cookouts in full swing, it can be tough to make healthy food choices. Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, head of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital, tells us how we can watch our waistlines and keep our hearts healthy while we enjoy a summer BBQ.Rose Melendez

WHAT ARE SOME WAYS TO EAT HEALTHY AT COOKOUTS THIS SUMMER?

Nurse Rose: One way to guide your eating choices is to follow some common heart health recommendations like limiting fat and sodium.

Try these heart-healthy grilling tips.

  • Avoid or limit fatty meats.
  • Grill more fish. Salmon, trout and herring have heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Go for skinless chicken breasts, instead of dark meat.
  • Grill dense veggies like zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers and corn.
  • Grill on the rack, so fat drips away from the food.

WHAT ABOUT ALL THE TEMPTING FOOD THAT’S NOT ON THE GRILL?

Nurse Rose: That’s a great point — you can eat a lot of extra calories, salt and sugar in side dishes, beverages and condiments without really being aware of it.

Use some of these simple heart healthy substitutions for your favorite cookout side dishes, drinks and condiments.

  • Swap mayonnaise-based salads for green leafy salads with lots of veggies or fruit salad.
  • Serve a raw veggie platter with low-fat dressing for a satisfying crunch, instead of potato chips and dip.
  • Go for fruit-infused water instead of sugary sodas and juices.
  • Try fresh fruit with low-calorie yogurt or cool whip instead of commercially baked foods like cookies and cakes.
  • Buy whole grain breads and low-fat or reduced fat cheese and dressings.

HOW DO YOU POLITELY TURN DOWN UNHEALTHY FOOD AT A BBQ?

Nurse Rose: What I like to do is bring some healthy options for the group. That way, if I want to eat a salad instead of potato chips, I’m guaranteed to have a healthy option without offending the host.

Eating heart healthy is just one great way to keep your heart in shape. Visit www.TrustedHeartCare.com to take our quick, easy and free heart risk assessment.


 ADDITIONAL HEALTH TIPS FROM ROSE

Hear more health tips from Rose by tuning into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m.