Heart-healthy tailgates for the win

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Football season is here and it’s time to break out the tailgating recipes. Luckily, there are plenty of ways football fans can give their hatchback a healthy touch this year.

Experts from the University of Alabama at Birmingham share tips on how to make this football season a healthy and delicious experience.

Manage portion sizes

Studies show that people unwittingly consume more calories when faced with larger portions. This can lead to excessive calorie intake, especially when consuming high calorie foods. Reducing portions of protein and other foods is the first step to a healthier meal.

“When it comes to portion control and planning a tailgate with a full menu, it’s never a good idea to skip meals to save calories,” Dr. Elizabeth Jacksonteacher at UAB Division of Cardiovascular Diseases. “Not eating in the morning of a tailgate can make you hungrier and overeat. Eating a healthy snack before the tailgate can help you eat smaller portions while watching the game.

Genetics, body type, and lifestyle play a major role in the amounts and types of nutrients each person should eat. For most adults, 4-6 ounces of protein is a healthy serving, and adding grilled vegetables, green sides, and salads to the menu can aid satiety.

Select low-fat proteins

Lean meat, poultry and fish are among the best sources of protein. Choose lower-fat options, such as lean/extra-lean beef patties, turkey, or skinless chicken breasts or strips. Fish is a good alternative to high-fat meats.

“Choose options high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon burgers,” Jackson said.

American Heart Association researchers have found that regular consumption of fish and seafood is consistently associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Fatty fish, such as anchovies, herring, mackerel, black cod, salmon, sardines, bluefin tuna, whitefish, striped bass, and cobia, are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. which can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Pile on plants

It is recommended that tailgaters fill at least half of their plate with vegetables and other plant-based foods, such as legumes – black beans, chickpeas or lentils. This will increase fiber intake and keep people feeling full throughout the game.

“Instead of using chips and nachos with some of your favorite dips, use vegetables, such as celery sticks, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and sweet potatoes,” Dr. Efstathia Andrikopoulou, assistant professor in the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases. “It’s an easy way to load up on veggies while enjoying some classic tailgate recipes.”

Choose whole grains

Whole grains are good sources of fiber and nutrients that play a role in blood pressure regulation and heart health.

“Choose whole-wheat options for your sliced ​​bread, hamburger buns, and hot dog buns,” Andrikopoulou says. “If you want to limit the amount of carbs or bread you eat, replace rolls with lettuce wraps.”

Reduce salt

Eating too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease. Limiting salt is an important part of a heart-healthy diet. Andrikopoulou recommends using reduced-sodium versions of condiments and dressings or more pepper, garlic, onion, paprika or oregano, instead of salt.

Reduce unhealthy fats

Saturated fats are usually found in the foods and drinks that people consume. Most come from animal products, such as dairy, meat and poultry. Eating too many foods high in saturated fat can be unhealthy and cause heart disease. Luckily, football fans can easily lighten up some of their signature dishes with clever substitutions.

“Try to cut down on unhealthy fats by using less butter and oils when cooking,” Jackson said. “Instead of using pre-made marinades, make your own. I would also recommend trying low-fat substitutions, when possible, like topping a baked potato with low-sodium salsa or low-fat yogurt instead of butter.

Another easy way to cut down on unhealthy fats is to bake, broil, or broil meats instead of frying them.

Choose drinks wisely

Alcoholic drinks are usually plentiful in football tailgates, but when it comes to those drinks, Andrikopoulou said moderation is key.

“It’s best not to abuse alcoholic beverages,” Andrikopoulou said. “If you want to drink at the game or at the tailgate, try to choose a drink with the lowest calories and carbs.”

For those who choose to drink alcohol, the American Heart Association recommends limiting an average of one to two alcoholic drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. The AHA defines a beverage as 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80 spirits, or 1 ounce of 100 spirits.

When it comes to sodas, Andrikopoulou recommends sticking to low-calorie or zero-calorie sodas. However, she said water is still the best option.

“By drinking more water, you’ll avoid dehydration and feel full faster, which can help you limit the number of drinks you drink,” Andrikopoulou says.

For those who don’t like plain water, drinking fruit infused water, flavored water, water with flavoring additives, and sparkling water are ways to stay hydrated.

By following these tips, football fans can keep their tailgating and other heart-healthy parties without giving up on fun or flavor. Browse heart healthy tailgate recipes to Institute of Cardiovascular Medicine UAB website.

This story originally appeared on the UAB News Website.

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