As temperatures rise, you may notice that you begin to crave different kinds of foods. Cold weather makes us want casseroles and rich, warm foods, and warm weather often has us looking for lighter, cooler foods to help us regulate our body temperature in hot weather. In many cases, warm-weather foods are naturally healthier, but that isn’t always the case. Below we’ve listed three simple dietary substitutions to help you have a heart-healthy summer.

1. Make It A Salad

Do you love a sandwich as much as the rest of us? Whether you’re craving a cold Publix sub, a cheeseburger, or some yummy tacos, it’s easy and healthy to lose the bun and make it a salad. Opting for a salad means you get more nutritious vegetables in your diet, fewer unnecessary carbs, and likely a lot less fatty condiments. After all, you may ask for extra mayo on your sub, but you probably won’t be asking for it on a salad. Most establishments would be happy to make the substitution for you, and if you’re eating at home, it can be as easy as buying a bag of prepared lettuce and topping it with your favorite salad ingredients. Pair that with a healthy salad dressing, and you’re in business.

2. Skip The Dairy

Speaking of foods that cool you off during the summer, many people will be flocking to ice cream stands for a sweet treat. And while a bit of ice cream can be ok from time to time, it’s not the best choice for your long-term cardiovascular health. Fresh juice or even Italian ice will give you the same cool, refreshing sensation without the added calories. But sweet treats aren’t the only place you can opt to go easy on dairy. As you enjoy your meals, consider where dairy can be cut back or eliminated from your diet. Having an ice cream cone once in a while or a piece of cheese on your sandwich won’t ruin your healthy living goals. However, it’s important to know that dairy products are loaded with saturated fats, which can contribute to arterial plaque.

3. Drop The Meat

We know a lot of people aren’t going to like the sound of this, but it really is in your best interest to limit the amount of meat in your diet. Evidence shows that increased consumption of processed and unprocessed meats can significantly increase your risk of heart disease. You need to watch out for processed meats like him, bacon, and sausage, and red meats like beef, pork, and lamb. These meats carry the same risks as the dairy products listed above. The high levels of saturated fats are more likely to cause plaque build-up in your arteries than meats like chicken or fish. If you’re a hardcore meat eater, choose the lighter meats next time you’re at the store, or experiment with meatless meals. Next time you’re grilling out for the family, consider substituting portobello mushrooms for burgers or grilling some veggie kabobs for the family.

If you’re used to eating without consideration for your health, substitutions may feel like a loss at first. But over time, you’ll find you start to crave healthier foods and how they make your body feel! Most people don’t need to overhaul their diets in one day completely. By slowly substituting unhealthy foods with healthier options, you’ll find yourself on the way to healthy living in no time. And remember, healthy living is not only about what you eat. Your body also needs movement, hydration, and sleep, among other things, to stay healthy. For more information about healthy living, contact our office today.