Give Your Memorial Day Cookout a Heart-Healthy Makeover

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Food and Nutrition
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

This weekend marks the “unofficial” start of summer, which means lots of outdoor barbecuing.

I love a good barbecue myself—in fact my wife Jan and I cook most of our summer meals outdoors on the grill. Yet, if you’re not careful about which foods you choose, a simple Memorial Day picnic meal can be a real disaster for your health and your heart.

Here’s an example of a typical Memorial Day cookout meal:

  • 3-ounce cheeseburger: 315 calories and 15 grams of fat (before the bun)
  • ½ cup serving of potato salad: 180 calories and 10 grams of fat
  • ½ cup serving of coleslaw: 120 calories and 12 grams of fat
  • ½ cup serving of baked beans: 130 calories
  • 1 slice apple pie: 300 calories and 12 grams of fat

When all is said and done, you’re looking at meal with a whopping 1,045 calories and 49 grams of fat! But with just a few simple changes, you can enjoy your cookout and benefit your heart, too. Here’s how.

  • Switch the burger to Grilled Mediterranean Halibut: 240 calories and 11 grams of fat
  • Switch the potato salad to ½ cup whole grain rice: 150 calories and 1 gram of fat
  • Add a 4-ounce side of steamed green beans: 40 calories and .1 grams of fat
  • Serve with a green salad with lemon-honey dressing: 151 calories and 8 grams of fat
  • Enjoy fresh watermelon for dessert: 100 calories

This festive holiday meal contains just 681 calories and 20.1 grams of fat. What’s also important is that most of the fat in this meal comes from vital omega-3 essential fatty acids that help to reduce your triglycerides and blood pressure, and support your brain, joint, and skin health.

Plus, you’re getting whole grains which help to reduce your risk of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. Even the watermelon dessert benefits your heart, reduces your cancer risk, and bolsters your immune system.

Now it’s your turn: What’s on your menu for Memorial Day?

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