How to Make Heart-Healthy Choices This Holiday Season

How to Make Heart-Healthy Choices This Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time for joy, gratitude, and celebration. And it's also a time when many people tend to indulge in rich, decadent foods and let their usual healthy habits slide.

While it's perfectly okay to enjoy some holiday treats, don’t let the coming months put your heart health at risk. Kunal Patel, MD, and our team at NJ Cardiovascular Institute are here to help you find a sustainable approach to heart-healthy choices, no matter the season.

Here are a few of our favorite tips and strategies for making heart-smart decisions and still savoring the holiday season.

1. Plan your meals

Planning your holiday meals in advance can make it much easier to stick to heart-healthy choices when you’re gathered around the table. Start by incorporating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins into your menu so you’re getting essential nutrients and fiber, which help support heart health.

2. Choose heart-healthy ingredients and cooking methods

The way you prepare your holiday meals can have a big impact on heart health. Opt for cooking methods like baking, grilling, steaming, and roasting instead of frying or deep-frying. These methods use less oil and help preserve the nutritional value of the food.

Look for festive, heart-friendly recipes or modify traditional holiday recipes by using substitutions. Swap in healthy fats like olive oil or avocado oil. Choose whole grains over refined grains and opt for lean proteins like turkey or fish. When cooking at home, use herbs, spices, and citrus to add flavor without relying on excessive amounts of sugar or salt.

3. Enjoy alcohol mindfully

Alcohol can be part of holiday celebrations, but always remember to consume it responsibly. Sugary drinks and excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to weight gain and negatively impact heart health. So limit your alcohol intake, and consider alternating alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic ones like sparkling water.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water every day. Be aware of the potential interactions between alcohol and any medications you may be taking. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to consult with Dr. Patel and our team.

4. Prioritize physical activity

The holidays can mean a disruption in your usual routine, and it’s easy to start skipping workouts. Regular physical activity is a crucial component of heart health, so make sure your exercise habits don’t suffer this season.

Schedule time for your workouts, even if they're shorter than usual. Bundle up for a walk, engage in holiday-themed outdoor activities, or dance to your favorite holiday tunes. Regular exercise helps control your weight, lower cholesterol levels, and reduce your risk of heart disease.

5. Manage stress

The holidays can be stressful, and stress can negatively impact your heart health. Integrate stress-reduction techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga into your days to help you stay calm and centered.

A well-rested body is better equipped to manage stress, so make quality sleep a priority, too. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to enjoy lower stress levels and enhanced overall well-being.

6. Don't skip your regular check-ups

Last but not least, don't neglect your regular check-ups. Routine cardiology care is essential for monitoring your heart health and catching any potential issues early.

At NJ Cardiovascular Institute, our Heart Smart Program is designed to help you protect and manage your heart health all year round. The holiday season can be a time of joy and celebration without the temptation of unhealthy indulgence — and we’re here to help. 

Learn more about lifestyle changes for heart health with an appointment at NJ Cardiovascular Institute. Call one of our offices in Elizabeth, Lakewood, Paramus, and Secaucus, New Jersey, or send us a message online today.

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