Tips on Ordering Heart Healthy Food at Restaurants

Going out to eat is meant to be a fun and enjoyable experience, not a miserable one. The thought of sticking to a heart-healthy diet while eating at a restaurant might seem not only impossible, but also uninteresting. However, there are many tactics that will help you order heart-healthy food at restaurants and allow you to enjoy the experience with just a small bit of sacrifice.

When people eat at restaurants, they often use the experience as an excuse to order and eat anything and everything that looks appealing. They adopt the “if I don’t know the exact ingredients used to make this food, it can’t hurt me” attitude. In such situations, people can inadvertently consume countless calories and enormous amounts of fat. While it’s acceptable to indulge at restaurants every so often, it’s not heart-healthy to dine out this way on a regular basis.

Many restaurants offer heart-healthy choices that are easy to spot on a menu. But some restaurants don’t have a separate menu category for healthy dishes. In such situations it’s important to know how to identify heart-healthy options so you know what to order.

Tips for Ordering Heart-Healthy Selections at Restaurants:

Skip the soda. Have you ever heard the term “empty calories?” If anything fits the definition of empty calories, it’s soda. And the diet variety isn’t necessarily heart-healthy either – even if it doesn’t have any calories. Instead, drink water, fat-free milk, or tea (without sweetener).

Ask for dressing and sauces on the side. You might think you’re being healthy by ordering a salad, but salads that are dripping in salad dressing may actually be more unhealthy than many other choices on the menu. Salad dressing can be extremely high in fat and calories. The same is true for foods that are smothered in sauces and gravies.

Avoid “all you can eat” buffet restaurants. Nobody needs to eat three plates of fried chicken, an unlimited bowl of mashed potatoes, or countless pieces of bread at one meal (not to mention all of the other food that’s ready and waiting for you on a buffet counter.) Buffet-style restaurants are fine for a special occasion, but this type of restaurant encourages overeating of unhealthy foods.

Just say no to dessert. If you absolutely must indulge in dessert because it’s your birthday or you are celebrating another special occasion, select something that contains fresh fruit or a choice that you can share with others at the table. Remember: Heart-healthy refers to items that are as low in calories, fats, and sugars as possible. If you like to drink coffee after a meal at restaurants, avoid adding excessive cream and sugar to your cup.

There is no need to deprive yourself of eating out with your family or friends simply because you want to stay on a heart-healthy diet. Similarly, it’s important to remember that eating at a restaurant is not an excuse to consume just anything you see on the menu. Sticking to a heart-healthy diet requires knowledge and will-power – both of which are entirely possible with a small amount of effort.

The post Tips on Ordering Heart Healthy Food at Restaurants appeared first on Boone Heart Institute | Preventive Cardiology | Denver, Colorado.

Low or No-Salt Diets – Are they Healthier than High-Salt Diets?

no-saltYou’ve probably heard it a million times: “There’s too much salt in your diet!” Diets that are high in salt have been linked to an increased risk for heart attacks and/or strokes because a diet that is high in salt can cause a person’s blood pressure to rise which is a trigger for the development of various cardiovascular problems. But as surprising as it might sound, a diet that is too low in salt is not necessarily a healthy alternative. In other words, diets extremely high in salt and diets that are extremely low in salt may be equally dangerous. Consequently, a diet that includes a balanced level of salt should be the goal of healthy people.

Human beings need a certain amount of salt (or “sodium”) in their diets in order to remain healthy. However, it’s difficult to throw out a specific number of milligrams of salt that every person should include in a daily diet because everyone is different. For example, not every person’s body reacts to sodium in the same way. Individuals with hypertension and other risk factors should consume less salt on a daily basis than people in perfect health – but nobody should be eating a diet that is extremely high in salt or one that is completely salt-free.

According to the United States Center for Disease Control, “Americans consume too much sodium. High sodium consumption raises blood pressure, and high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Heart disease and stroke are the nation’s first and fourth leading causes of death.”

There is certainly considerable evidence that a diet high in salt can potentially lead to blood-pressure-related cardiovascular disease, and there is little doubt that people who consume too much salt should lower their sodium intake. However, there is also data to suggest that a diet that is devoid of salt altogether can be just as dangerous.

The bottom line is that diets too high or too low in just about anything are not optimal. It’s important to find a safe and healthy balance when it comes to salt and as well as other vitamins and minerals. In the United States, most food products that are processed and pre-packaged as well as foods that are sold in many restaurants (especially the fast food variety) contain very high levels of salt. In light of this information, it would be difficult for most people to completely eliminate salt from their diets.

If you are considering a diet that is either devoid of salt or low in salt, it’s important to discuss your ideas with a physician. Make absolutely sure the diet is considered safe, and also that it is  recommended for you and your specific circumstance.



The post Low or No-Salt Diets – Are they Healthier than High-Salt Diets? appeared first on Boone Heart Institute | Preventive Cardiology | Denver, Colorado.