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 Saint Barnabas 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.
About Barnabas Health Heart Centers – Life is Better Heart Healthy
Barnabas Health's expansive network of cardiac services and facilities offers all the advantages of a single, multi-center program, with convenient access to consultation, testing, follow-up care and rehabilitation. Our award-winning Heart Centers are nationally recognized. We offer adult and pediatric cardiovascular programs throughout New Jersey. Our emergency department provides treatment and diagnosis of heart attack and other cardiac conditions. Barnabas Health's cardiac surgeons perform minimally invasive valve and bypass surgeries, and complex open-heart surgery. Our heart transplant program is the third largest in the nation.
Our Heart Centers act as a model for today's most progressive cardiac programs, bringing together an extensive team of experienced heart specialists with a full complement of clinical resources. Our patient-centered philosophy continues to guide our ambition to improve the heart health of New Jersey residents.
For more information and location details, visit barnabashealth.org/heartcenters.