February is American Heart Month. Become a smart diner to keep your heart happy.
Everywhere you look, unhealthy foods are tempting us. Luckily, many restaurants are realizing that diners want healthy alternatives. The American Heart Association has initiated a program that certifies heart-smart eateries. Check out these tips for great ways to care for your heart when ordering.
Which restaurant? If you head for the diner that offers burgers and cheesecake, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Many nutrition websites can help you find restaurants that provide both healthy and delicious fare.
Ask the server to serve only half your meal, holding the rest in a doggy bag for you to take home. This will help prevent you from overeating.
Nix the appetizers, bread and sugar-loaded beverages. When choosing a salad, keep it vegetable-based and ask for dressing on the side so you can regulate your intake.
Track your sodium
Restaurants are notorious for loading on the salt. Too much of it can send blood pressure through the roof and increase your chance of heart attack. Avoid the obvious ones like bacon and soy sauce and stay vigilant about where sodium could be lurking.
High omega-3 content makes salmon a heart super food. Seafood benefits other parts of you as well, including the brain and eyes. If you’re concerned about mercury in tuna, limit it to one serving per week and favor other safe seafoods.
Don’t be cheesy
Here in America, a lot of our food is smothered in cheese. Although cheese does contain some calcium, it’s mainly fat, which is exactly what you want to avoid.
Ask your server questions. She or he may be able to point you toward healthy options or even offer to modify a meal for your benefit. Many restaurants have low fat versions of mayonnaise or dressing.
For more great ideas when ordering out, check out the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Center. Learn more about the Heart & Vascular Center at Brandon Regional Hospital by calling our free Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-327-2636.