Heart and Vascular Health Beat the Heat with Heart Healthy Food By Heart and Vascular Institute, June 23, 2015 Looking for heart healthy food for your next picnic or cookout? Warm weather offers lots of choices for heart-healthy eating, from fresh fruits and vegetables to healthy grilling ideas. You might be surprised to learn that some of your summer favorites are not only good at keeping you cool, but they’re good for your heart, as well. Check out these tips to beat the heat and stay heart-healthy this summer. Stay Hydrated A heart that gets enough water, or is well-hydrated, can pump blood better. How much water you need depends on what you’re doing, and how hot it is. For example, a hike on a hot summer day will probably make you sweat more than relaxing in the shade by the pool. No matter what you’re doing, keep water close by, and drink before you feel thirsty. Besides drinking water, you can also get water from the foods you eat. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a good idea year-round and can help cool you down on hot summer days. Some summer favorites are more than 90 percent water, including: Cucumber Salad greens Watermelon Strawberries Pick Fresh, In-season Foods Heart healthy food is on hand at your local farmer’s market. Colorful, fresh fruits, and vegetables are lower in calories and are both cholesterol- and sodium-free. They also have vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that help your body stay healthy. And, fresh fruits and vegetables can keep you cool in more ways than one. Beyond being water-rich, you can eat most of them raw, with no need to turn on the stove. Grill the Heart Healthy Way The next time you fire up your grill, why not try a heart-healthy substitute for hamburgers and hot dogs? Some ideas include: Fish with omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, trout, or Bluefin tuna Skinless chicken, or ground chicken, or turkey for burgers Grilled vegetables for side dishes, like broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, or portabella mushrooms Grilled fruit like peaches or pineapple topped with fat-free vanilla Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a healthier dessert Still want a burger? Choose lean or extra-lean beef, and think about these alternatives to traditional hamburger buns for a refreshing twist.