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Five Tips for a heart-healthy Labor Day BBQ

As Labor Day approaches and the summer comes to a close, many of us will celebrate the final days of the season with one more road trip, one final pool day and one last summer hoorah barbeque. According to the Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association Labor Day is tied with Memorial Day as the second most popular day for barbeques right after Independence Day.

Poor health habits tend to make their way to the forefront on weekends full of celebrations and BBQs. Cardiologist and President of Aetna Foundation, Garth Graham gives us five tips to make the most of your Labor Day BBQ without busting your belt.

Bring something that’s good for you
Many people go to a BBQ with a dish to share. Instead of bringing that heavy dish of macaroni and cheese or a giant plate of brownies, bring something that you know you won’t regret eating, like grilled veggies, corn on the cob, or sliced melon. A study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 87 percent of adults do not meet the vegetable intake recommendations.  

Switch out the beefy burgers with leaner meat
Chicken or fish taste just as great on the grill as burgers do. If you can’t give up the burger, switch it out for a lean turkey burger or veggie burger instead. Grilled veggies and chicken kabobs are also a sure-fire crowd pleaser. According to the Harvard Men’s Health Watch, reducing your intake of red meat can lead to a longer life. Their study determined that each additional daily serving of red meat increased risk of death by 13 percent.

Do something active
There is no need for you to hang around the buffet table after you’ve finished eating. Take advantage of the final days of summer weather and rally the kids and adults to play a friendly game of kickball, horseshoe, or other fun outdoor games. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that 28 percent of Americans, or 80.2 million people, age six and older are physically inactive. Take time during your BBQ to go out and get your heart rate up!

Pay attention to hidden sources of sugar
Take a look at the label on your favorite sauce before slathering it on your food. Be mindful of which condiments you eat and how much you add to your meal. According to the Mayo Clinic, sauces, like ketchup and thick barbeque sauces, are full of unnecessary sugars and sodium. Try other options such as salsa, mustard or hot sauce.

Try an occasional dessert, but don’t overdo it
It’s okay to let yourself indulge in sweet treats from time to time, as you long as you enjoy in moderation. The Cleveland Clinic states that you should limit your intake of sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. Enjoy a small serving of dessert or opt for fresh fruit to tame your sweet tooth.

Post contributed by: Garth Graham, President at Aetna Foundation, Associate Professor Department of Medicine

Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Harvard Men’s Health Watch
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Mayo Clinic
Cleveland Clinic

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Tags: aetna, aetna foundation, guest post, healthy BBQ, healthy summer, heart healthy blog, labor day, qardio, qardio blog, summer
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