4th of July: Hearth-healthy grilling tips from the American Heart Association

{} BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Independence Day is among us and most Birmingham residents will be joining with friends and family this holiday weekend to celebrate with a cookout. While stocking up on sunscreen, sparklers and charcoal, make sure to shop for heart-healthy foods to toss on the grill. There are all kinds of tasty, nutritious foods to be included in your 4th of July menu. Eating a heart-healthy diet helps reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 and 4 killers in the U.S. and the cause of 30% of all deaths in Metro Birmingham each year. "Grilling out for the 4th can be tasty, enjoyable and heart healthy. Choose foods that are low in saturated fat, such as chicken breasts and leaner cuts of beef," said Anna Threadcraft, local dietician and volunteer for the American Heart Association. "Also, fill up half of your plate first with fruits and veggies instead of loading up on higher calorie snacks and sides. When it comes to finishing up a patriotic dinner from the grill, consider healthy alternatives for dessert like a crisp, juicy watermelon slice. You'll feel satisfied without depriving yourself of any of the things that you love!" Try some more of these Heart-Healthy Grilling Tips for your 4th of July barbecue: Go fish! Fish, especially oily fish like tuna and salmon, have excellent nutritional benefits including omega-3 fatty acids. Rub a fillet with lemon juice and parsley or rosemary for enhanced flavor. Make a better burger: if you're grilling burgers, be sure to buy lean or extra lean beef, drain off the excess fat after cooking and avoid making huge patties - remember that a serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards (3 oz.). Add finely chopped green pepper to your beef to get in some veggies. Baked fries: Slice white or sweet potatoes into sticks, lightly spray with olive oil cooking spray, pepper and paprika and bake on a cookie sheet for 40 minutes at 375 degrees. Veggie kabobs: Load up skewers with mushrooms, peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash or other veggies. Spray lightly with olive oil cooking spray and grill until slightly blackened. Try grilled corn on the cob: leave the husks on, and grill for about 30 minutes over medium flame, rotating occasionally. Remove from grill, let cool for about 5 minutes, remove husks and enjoy! And remember, while you and your family are enjoying all of the fun in the backyard be sure and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. For more tips on making your 4th of July and this summer more heart-healthy, visit

Source:{} News release from the American Heart Association

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