Tips for a healthy 4th of July weekend

dad bbq AHA smallThe long 4th of July weekend is sure to be filled with picnics and barbecues. Choosing healthier foods and staying active can make for a healthier holiday weekend, according to the American Heart Association.

Eating a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, the #1 and #5 leading causes of death in the nation. Studies show that up to 80% of cardiovascular events can be prevented with simple lifestyle changes, like walking more and eating healthier. The American Heart Association offers these tips for a heart-healthy celebration.

Don’t sit – get fit!
The AHA recommends 30 minutes of physical activity daily for adults and 60 minutes for children. Plan a group hike or load up on sports equipment for your picnics to keep everyone active this holiday. Get up out of the lawn chairs and join in the fun with frisbees, basketballs, kickballs, traditional lawn games — all easily packable and enjoyed by adults and kids alike. To complete your heart-healthy holiday, go out for a family walk after dinner and community festivities.

Eat healthier!
Here are the American Heart Association’s tips for healthy dining:

  • Go for broiled or grilled fish twice per week, including omega-3-rich salmon, trout and herring
  • Buy skinless chicken breasts & turkey or poultry burgers
  • Grilling red meats?  Choose “loin” and “round” cuts of red meat and pork and trim visible fat when you get home. Aim for portion sizes of 3-4 ounces or less, or the size of a deck of cards.
  • Watch the salt – cut sodium to 1,500mg daily.  Avoid salty seasonings and prepared condiments like teriyaki, soy and barbecue sauce, or choose the low-sodium versions.
  • Eat more fruits & veggies – grill them, top sandwiches and salads, and make veggies the star of your plate. Try adding seasonal fruits to salads or grilling them for a low-calorie dessert
  • Skip the high fat potato chips, and instead serve raw veggies with a low-fat dip made from thick, fat-free Greek yogurt, not mayo
  • Choose whole wheat buns & bread for sandwiches and use baked whole wheat tortillas for a healthy fruit tart crust
  • Serve water, fruit juice spritzers or unsweetened teas.

Buffet style service?
The USDA food plate recommends that half your plate be filled with fruits and vegetables. Behavioral psychology studies have shown that you can positively influence eating habits with a few easy changes like using smaller plates and placing the vegetables and salads in the beginning of the buffet. Displaying fruits in colorful bowls also leads to increased consumption. For free heart healthy recipes and menu ideas, visit

Grilling Marinade (recipe & video:

Tuscan Grilled Chicken Kebabs recipe:

Grilled chicken with Strawberries & Pineapple Salsa recipe:

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