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Heart Healthy Food Ideas When Eating Out

Updated on October 8, 2017
Chin chin profile image

My name is Chin chin. I have a B.S. degree in food technology. I like to share important information about health and food-related topics.


Most people nowadays eat on the go, that’s why many fast food chains and restaurants are really flourishing. Eating home-cooked meals is inherently healthier, but if you must eat out, you can still choose to have heart-healthy food if you want to. Here are 7 food suggestions and guidelines for you to maintain a heart-healthy diet when eating out.

1. Salads

Most fast food chains today have salads on their menu to give customers a healthier food selection. When you order salads, however, ask if they have low-fat or low-calorie dressings like vinaigrette dressing to go with them. If none is available, ask for the dressing to be served on the side. Then limit your usage to just 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons per salad. You have to watch out for the saturated fat in dressings.

A healthy salad is one that has lots of fresh veggies, especially the dark leafy veggies, which add fiber to your diet. Salads may also be served with meat on top for added protein. Instead of fried meat, which are less heart healthy, choose grilled chicken or turkey or water-packed tuna chunks. You may also ask for chopped hard-boiled egg or low-fat cheese to be added. For vegans, sources of protein include beans, nuts, legumes and tofu.

Let the Heart Healthy Salads in the video below inspire you to eat healthy even outside the home.

2. Meat Dishes

If you want to eat meat, grilled meat contains lesser grease compared to fried meat. White meat is better than red meat, so order a chicken or turkey dish as a lower-fat alternative to beef. Fish, on the other hand, provides heart-healthy fat that actually helps to protect your arteries and veins from cholesterol. Baked or grilled fish is one of the best foods to order when eating out.

Choose grilled meat, preferably, white meat like chicken, turkey or fish.

Grilled Salmon
Grilled Salmon | Source

3. Sandwiches

When it comes to sandwiches and burgers, look for those with grilled chicken instead fried. And ask for as many vegetables as possible to be added to your sandwich to increase fiber intake. If there’s an option for whole grain bread, then go for that option to further increase fiber intake. Then, instead of having mayonnaise that’s high in saturated fat, choose mustard and ketchup as sandwich dressing.

It would help if you know which fast food restaurants offer grilled chicken sandwich. Business Insider lists the following restaurants that have grilled chicken sandwich on their menu:

  • Burger King
  • Wendy's
  • McDonalds
  • Zaxby's
  • Hardee's
  • Chick-Fil-A

Grilled Chicken Sandwich at Wendy's
Grilled Chicken Sandwich at Wendy's | Source

4. Side Items

Instead of ordering French fries, aside from the above-mentioned salads, ask for fruit cups or steamed vegetables. Some serve apple slices or mandarin oranges.

Steamed vegetables are better to have because all the natural nutrients are kept intact. Raw veggies are also a good side item if they’re available. This will add more vitamins and fiber to your diet.

In fast food Mexican places, a simple burrito or taco can actually be pretty healthy. Make sure to pile on as many vegetables as possible to increase your fiber. While a taco salad may sound healthy, it’s usually loaded with saturated fat and calories.

5. Beverages

You could choose fresh juice, milk or green or berry smoothie to drink with your meal instead of soda. This will help to keep your blood sugar normalized and provide you with extra vitamins and minerals. This is also advisable for your kids when eating fast food.

If you don't mind, choose to drink plain water. Plain water is still the healthiest drink for the body. If you don't drink enough water, you can get sick.

6. Desserts

When it’s time for dessert, there aren’t usually a lot of heart healthy choices. You may want to ask for fresh fruit as a substitute. Of course, every once in awhile it’s perfectly okay to have dessert with your meal. The problem comes when you eat dessert with every meal.


What About Serving Portions?

Portion control is important when eating out. Many fast food restaurants offer portions that are large enough for two or three meals. One thing that you can do is opting for a kid’s meal or a small burger and small fries to help keep your intake of saturated fat to a minimum.

You may also try splitting a meal with a friend instead of eating the entire portion on your own. If you wish, you can save half of your meal to eat later. Split the meal in half and box up one portion to take home. This can keep you from mindlessly eating everything on your plate.

Final Thoughts

It’s okay to have burger and fries once in a while. But if you’re serious about keeping your heart healthy, you can take these guidelines and follow them. With a little effort, you can eat heart healthy meals no matter where you go.

© 2017 Chin chin


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