Score a Touchdown with Heart Healthy Snacks for the Game

The big game needs big plans for healthy snacks! Don’t sack everyone’s healthy New Year’s resolutions with a party spread filled with fried, fattening or sugary foods. Score a touchdown with a super party buffet full of heart healthy foods to give everyone a healthy option while celebrating the big game! Offering healthy food choices can help people maintain a healthy weight, even when celebrating the biggest game of the year.

First Half Strategy – First down: start off with salad and veggies. Fill up on the healthier foods first then add in a few treats on your plate. Go with healthier appetizers like cut veggies and hummus, fat-free yogurt dips or

guacamole made with avocados. According to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, eating one avocado a day as part of a heart healthy, cholesterol-lowering moderate-fat diet can help improve bad cholesterol levels in overweight and obese individuals. Use baked, not fried and whole grain versions of your favorite chips and crackers. Try low-fat cheeses with whole grain crackers or toasts, and choose assorted low-sodium or unsalted nuts, which are high in good fats and protein.

Halftime Rally – When planning your halftime buffet, throw the penalty flag on the worst party foods like fried Buffalo wings (up to 35 grams of fat per serving), takeout personal pepperoni pan pizza (over 60% of sodium daily allowance), nachos with cheese (30% of your daily fat). Opt for baked,

not fried buffalo tenders, whole wheat pizza with veggies and chicken or bean & low-fat cheese burritos in a whole wheat wrap and you’ll still have energy for that halftime touch football game! Try turkey or chicken and bean chili with lots of veggies cooked in and low-fat cheese and low-fat sour cream on the side.

Second Half Plan – Offer seltzer and no sugar-added fruit juice beverages as “mock-cocktail” alternatives to alcohol-based drinks. Alcohol can raise

blood pressure and is full of empty calories. Make portion control part of your game plan. Smaller plates and calorie counting apps can help you keep track of the foods you are consuming so you don’t go overboard. Know your portions. For example, a serving of chicken breast (3 ounces) is about the size of a deck of cards and an ounce of cheese is about the size of your index finger. A cup of pasta is the size of a fist and half a cup of rice is a cupcake wrapper-full.

The American Heart Association recommends a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole-grain, high-fiber foods, and fat-free and low-fat dairy most often. Keep total fat intake between 25 and 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils most often. Use naturally occurring, un-hydrogenated vegetable oils such as canola, safflower, sunflower or olive oil most often.

Why offer healthier options? In the US, the prevalence of obesity among adults increased from 1999 to 2000 through 2013 to 2014 from 30.5% to 37.7%. Nearly one-third of U.S. children and adolescents are overweight or obese and at higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Making small changes to diet and lifestyle can help prevent heart disease and stroke, the number one and five killers.

The American Heart Association has partnered with the Walmart Foundation to offer Simple Cooking with Heart, a nationwide program aimed at changing the way people think about food. Try these healthy variations of classic party recipes and get more cooking tips from the American Heart Association and free recipes and cooking videos at www.heart.org/simplecooking.