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.

You Might Also Enjoy...

The Link Between Hormonal Changes and Heart Palpitations

The Link Between Hormonal Changes and Heart Palpitations

Hormones are chemicals that act as messengers throughout your body. They influence key bodily functions — and that includes your heartbeat. Find out how natural hormonal changes can cause heart palpitations and what you can do about it.
Are Varicose Veins Dangerous to My Health?

Are Varicose Veins Dangerous to My Health?

Varicose veins can be unsightly and embarrassing — but does their presence pose a greater threat to your health? Learn more about varicose veins, possible complications, and how varicose vein treatment can make a difference.

I'm Nervous About My Stress Test: What Can I Expect?

Exercise stress tests are a safe, noninvasive way to assess your heart health. But if you’re scheduled for one, it’s normal to be nervous. Find out what to expect during your stress test and how getting one can help protect your heart health.

The Dangers of High Blood Pressure

Half of American adults have high blood pressure. But just because it's common doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous. Learn the risks of high blood pressure and find out how proactive management can help you live a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Chest Pain During Cardio: What You Need to Know

Chest Pain During Cardio: What You Need to Know

Regular physical activity is important for staying in shape and preventing problems with your cardiovascular system. If you have pain in your chest while exercising, it could be due to a variety of conditions.
When to Worry About Shortness of Breath

When to Worry About Shortness of Breath

There are a number of reasons you may find yourself short of breath, many of them temporary and mild. However, sometimes not being able to catch your breath is a sign of an underlying problem that needs medical treatment.