Our national feast can be good for your heart when you take advantage of the season’s nutritious bounty.
Despite its reputation for fat and salt, Thanksgiving also features healthy foods like apples, pumpkins and turkey. Consider hosting the meal so you can take charge. Otherwise, there are many choices you can make with your heart in mind. Here are six holiday tips for heart wellness.
- Substitute creatively. Experiment with alternatives to butter, like olive or safflower oil. A dollop of yogurt in mashed potatoes or low fat milk in sauces is delicious. Stuff your turkey with barley, nuts and brown rice. Unlike commercial stuffing, nutrient-, fiber- and vitamin-rich whole grains protect you from heart attack.
- Celebrate vegetables. The first Thanksgiving featured squash, beans and cabbage. Give them a place of honor at your table. Think variety: vitamins in colorful veggies fight heart disease. Onions and garlic lower cholesterol.
- Set aside salt. Excess water raises blood pressure and puts strain on your kidneys, heart, brain and arteries. Crave flavor? Pick from zesty spices, dried fruit or garlic. Beware the dangerous sodium contents of commercial soups, bullion and canned vegetables.
- Sugar: not sweet for your heart. Sugar increases your chance of cardiovascular disease, especially in beverages like soda and alcohol. Consider stevia for baking and skip the whipped cream.
- Get your heart pumping! Rather than lounge on the sofa, toss a football with the kids. What better way to spend time with family than going for a stroll? Many communities offer holiday-themed running races. If you commit in advance or enlist a friend, you’re less likely to bail out.
- Stay aware. It’s easy to munch mindlessly over long meals, but pay attention to your quantity so you won’t regret it later. Weight gain can lead to high blood pressure, so write down everything you eat or use a calorie-counting app to help keep you on track.
Central Florida Regional Hospital’s Heart Institute provides screenings, classes and experts to keep you healthy. Call us at (863) 763-2151 or use our 24/7 Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-800-449-8642 if you have any questions or need a physician referral.