Thursday, June 19, 2008

Healthy Grilling This Summer

Heart Specialist Offers Tips for Healthy Eating

The warm weather is here and many Americans have begun to dust off their outdoor grills to prepare their favorite foods. But grilling today goes way beyond hamburgers and hot dogs. Increasingly health-conscious backyard chefs are firing up some of the latest seasonal foods to create tasty, healthy dishes on the grill.

In fact, nutrition experts often recommend grilling as a cooking method because, unlike deep frying or pan sautéing, it adds no fat to food, an important benefit for people trying to stick to a healthy diet. Combine this healthy cooking method with fresh produce and you’ve got a recipe for a healthy heart this summer.

“We all know that our diets play an important role in our heart health, and eating right can lower the risk of heart disease,” says Dr. Aliya Browne, Clinical Director for Deborah’s Women’s Heart Center in Hainesport, New Jersey. “And with the wide variety of fresh, seasonal foods, summer is the perfect time to improve your eating habits by eating less fat, less sodium, fewer calories and more fiber.”

Dr. Browne suggests adding some of these seasonal “super foods” to boost nutritional goodness while eating your way to a healthier heart:


During the summer, juicy, fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes are abundant at your local vegetable stand or supermarket, especially from July 10 through September 15, when they are at their peak of ripeness.

“Tomatoes are low in sodium and a good source of fiber, which helps lower cholesterol levels. Researchers have discovered that the red color in tomatoes (called lycopene) may reduce heart disease risk, explains Dr. Browne.

The American Heart Association recommends eating tomatoes as part of a heart-healthy diet. So grill up those bright, red tomatoes and enjoy.

On the Grill: Cut tomatoes in half crosswise, brush with canola or olive oil, and your favorite spices. Wrap in foil and grill sliced side up for six to eight minutes.


Crisp, sweet corn starts appearing at roadside farm stands are early as late June. But backyard chefs can enjoy the milky white, small kernels of sweet corn all summer long.

“Corn is an excellent source of fiber. Corn provides almost 6 grams of fiber for every half cup. That's more than 20% of the fiber the American Heart Association says you need every day to be healthy,” adds Dr. Browne.

And it's simple to prepare and delicious. Just put corn on the cob in a pot of boiling water or grill it for a heart-healthy feast!

On the Grill: Soak ears of corn in water for 30 minutes then grill in the husk for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the silk before grilling.


Summer is the perfect time for everyone to make positive changes in their diet by adding many of the tasty varieties of fish available to health-conscious grillers, from mackerel, cod and flounder to monkfish and salmon.

Everyone knows that fish is a great source of protein and an excellent alternative to high-fat meats. But here's something you might not realize: It's also good for your ticker.

“The American Heart Association recommends that we eat fish at least twice a week, preferably fatty fish such as mackerel and salmon. These types contain high levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids,” explains Dr. Browne.

On the Grill: Wrap salmon with herbs and chopped onion and tomatoes in parchment or aluminum foil and grill or bake 12 minutes for a satisfying meal.

Now that you have these summer tips, get outside and make this season a heart-healthy one.


Advanced Heart, Lung and Vascular Care is a multi-specialty group practice in New Jersey staffed by leading experts from major academic medical centers. The Women’s Heart Center offers the following services: general and consultative cardiology, hypertension and heart failure assessment, stress management, executive health and fitness consultations, and comprehensive cardiovascular imaging. These services cover a wide-range of cardiac illnesses in women including congenital heart disease, diabetic heart, vascular disease and arrhythmias.

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