Grill and Chill: Keeping Your Heart Happy This Memorial Day - 120/Life

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  • Grill and Chill: Keeping Your Heart Happy This Memorial Day

    May 23, 2024 2 min read

    Grilling & Blood Pressure - 120/Life

    It’s Memorial Day weekend and many of us will be enjoying some much needed R&R. For millions of Americans, this means grilling our favorite recipes - meat, seafood and veggies - with friends and family. After all, there’s not much that can beat having freshly grilled, delicious food with the people we love.

    As you gear up for this weekend, we prepared some tips & tricks to make the most of your holiday without impacting your blood pressure. According to a Harvard Health study from 2018, it’s worth noting that grilling can have some unanticipated effects on your heart health. The study, presented at the American Heart Association's 2018 Epidemiology and Prevention — Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions tracked more than 100,000 people who ate at least two servings of beef, poultry, or fish each week. Counterintuitively, they found that people who grilled, broiled, or roasted their meat at high temperatures more than 15 times each month had a 17% higher risk of hypertension compared to people that grilled, roasted, or broiled less than 4 times a month.

    You should also be aware that grilling meat can increase cancer risk. This is because the process creates two natural carcinogens:

    1. PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), which are generated by grilling fat. You can avoid these by cutting the fat off your meat before grilling.
    2. HCAs (Heterocyclic amines), which are formed by exposing amino acids, sugars, and creatine to high heat. To limit your intake of HCAs, make sure to cut the blackened or burnt pieces off your meat after you're done cooking it.

    Now, that doesn’t mean that grilling is bad for you. In fact, grilling has been shown to bring out the natural flavors in food, which reduces the need for excess salt and condiments. That's a good thing because, as most of you know, salt (sodium) in large quantities can contribute to high blood pressure.

    So when you throw your meat on the grill, keep in mind that your heart will thank you if you avoid excessive amounts of salt and salty seasonings and marinades. It’s also a great way of preserving the nutrients, thiamine (Vitamin B1) and riboflavin (Vitamin B2). These vitamins help carbohydrates break down into energy, prevent certain diseases, and even help with energy production.

    Additionally, it might come as a surprise that most vegetables retain more minerals and vitamins when grilled. The list of heart healthy veggies includes (but is by no means limited to) zucchini, cabbages, eggplants, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, and onions.

    So, in summary, here are some quick tips to keep in mind tomorrow.

    1. Avoid excess salt & salty seasonings while grilling meat, seafood, and vegetables
    2. Throw some heart healthy veggies on the grill. Zucchini and eggplant are two of our favorites
    3. Drink alcohol in moderation. This one shouldn’t be any surprise :)
    4. Drink lots of water. 6-8 glasses of water is beneficial for keeping your blood pressure in check

    And remember, there are no hard and fast rules - it’s equally important not to stress too much about your choices. After all, the whole point of this long weekend is to enjoy yourself, destress, and recharge.

    Here’s to your health, and Happy Memorial Day!

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