American Heart Association offers tips for holiday season

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The American Heart Association is offering tips to start the New Year off heart healthy.

They say its best to take small steps to make positive and permanent changes for your health.

  • Get up a half hour earlier to make the morning less stressful.
  • Eat breakfast.
  • Have a turkey sandwich instead of a meatball sub with cheese for lunch.
  • Drink low-fat (1%) milk instead of whole milk.
  • Take a walk during your morning or afternoon coffee break.
  • Turn off the TV and spend the evening enjoying a physical activity.

Another way to improve your heart health is to avoid holiday food traps.

  • Choose assorted unsalted nuts, fiber-rich crackers and raw vegetables with low-fat dressing or hummus for quick snacks or appetizers at a holiday party. These are great alternatives to a typical cheese platter that's loaded with saturated fat.
  • Buy low-fat or fat-free eggnog to cut down on calories and fat. Mulled apple cider is an even better choice.
  • Select fat-free evaporated milk to make mashed potatoes creamy. Use low-sodium chicken broth to give them a little more flavor.
  • Make your stuffing colorful and heart healthy by mixing in dried cranberries, raisins and apricots instead of meat.
  • Skip the prepackaged gravy mixes and make your own. Low-sodium broth and skim milk make delicious, healthier gravy.
  • Avoid pre-packaged pumpkin pies the crusts are typically filled with trans and saturated fats. Crustless pumpkin pies or angel food cakes with fresh or frozen berries are tasty alternatives. Skip pre-packaged cakes and cookies, too.
  • Look for lean cuts–the healthiest cuts always include the words "round," "loin" or "chuck." The word "prime" in the name means high in fat.
  • Foods high in insoluble fiber are heart healthy. Try adding some of these to your holiday menu: whole-wheat breads, cabbage, beets, carrots, Brussels sprouts, turnips or cauliflower.
  • Shop for foods with the heart-check mark symbol on the label. These foods meet the American Heart Association's nutrition guidelines.

The American Heart Association recommends visiting to create a shopping list of certified heart healthy foods. You can even download the shopping list to a mobile device.