7 BBQ foods that are actually healthy

Eating healthy at a summer cookout is a breeze with these tasty choices. (iStock)

Eating healthy at a summer cookout is a breeze with these tasty choices. (iStock)

BBQs are a staple of summer but can be a minefield of high-calorie foods. There are healthier and smarter choices—you just need to know what they are.

Zucchini

Available year-round, zucchini is at its best during the summer season, especially if freshly plucked from your own garden. A delicious source of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, and fiber, it packs a nutritious punch for a mere 27 calories per cup cooked. Registered dietitian Rachael Hartley says summer vegetables like zucchini, simply seasoned with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, are delicious on the grill. “I like to make extra and use leftovers for pasta, salads, and sandwiches during the week,” says Hartley.

Corn

New York City-based nutritionist Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD says, “there’s nothing better than sweet summer corn. I like to throw it on an indoor grill in the husks. It gives a nice smoky charred flavor. To make it a little special, top with cotija cheese and a squeeze of lime.” A medium ear of corn offers about 3 grams of fiber, some protein, and potassium. Corn also contains the compounds lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been linked to reduced risk for macular degeneration according to a 2015 article in the Journal of Ophthalmology.

Avocado

“Many people don’t realize that you can grill avocado,” says Rizzo. “Just cut it in half, remove the pit and throw it face-down on the grill. It will get these beautiful grill marks and become warm and creamy.” Avocado is a source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, fiber, vitamin K, and folate. A recent study from Tufts University also found that an avocado a day improved brain function in older adults.

Veggie burgers

Stephanie McKercher, RD, a Colorado-based recipe developer at The Grateful Grazer, recommends a meatless option made from chickpeas— like her moroccan-spiced chickpea burgers. “They’re made with lots of herbs and spices and a hearty mix of chickpeas and whole grains. Even meat-lovers will want to give this one a try!” says McKercher. Chickpeas boast 6 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein per half cup, are rich in folate, and have some calcium and iron.

Grain salad

Ancient grains appear more often at get-togethers these days than the standard pasta salad. A member of the wheat family, farro qualifies as an ancient grain. It has more fiber and protein than brown rice and contains magnesium which, according to Tufts University, may help lower the risk of diabetes. McKercher says “a swoon-worthy salad makes it easy to add a few fruits and veggies to your barbecue plate. I like to serve up farro with seasonal produce and creamy tahini dressing. It’s a crowd-pleasing summer favorite.”

Coleslaw

With a mix of carrots, green, and sometimes red cabbage, coleslaw is typical BBQ fare. Cabbage is rich in vitamin C and K, and also has some folate, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Cabbage contains sulforaphane which has been linked with a healthier brain and improvement in neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression, according to a study in the Journal of Molecular Neuropsychiatry. Deli-style and supermarket slaws come with added sugar and regular mayonnaise; you can try to drain off some of the liquid or bring your own version made with nonfat Greek yogurt.

Potato salad (hold the mayo)

Potato salad is a staple of summer picnics and BBQs but there are smarter ways to enjoy this vitamin C-rich tuber that also gives you a healthy dose of potassium and B vitamins. For a good-for-you twist on potato salad, don’t rule out vitamin A-rich sweet potatoes for a summer salad. Culinary nutrition expert Jessica Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN recommends ditching the mayo and using Greek yogurt or a vinegar-based dressing instead, such as in her roasted sweet potato salad with honey-lime vinaigrette.

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Nuts may boost male fertility: study

Eating nuts on a regular basis was found to "significantly" boost sperm quality and quantity in young men, researchers found
Eating nuts on a regular basis was found to "significantly" boost sperm quality and quantity in young men, researchers found
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Eating nuts “significantly” boosted the number and health of sperm in young men in a scientific trial, researchers said Wednesday.

The findings “support a beneficial role for chronic nut consumption in sperm quality,” they said, but stressed the study participants were all healthy, apparently fertile men.

The potential benefits of nuts for men struggling with fertility have yet to be probed.

For the study, researchers recruited 119 men aged 18-35, who they divided into two groups.

One group ate 60 grammes of almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts daily on top of their usual “western-style” diet, while the second group got no nuts.

After 14 weeks, the nut group “had significant improvements in their sperm count, vitality, motility (movement) and morphology (shape)” — all associated with male fertility, said a statement.

“Moreover, the subjects in the nut group also showed a significant reduction in their levels of sperm DNA fragmentation, a parameter closely associated with male infertility.”

The results were consistent with sperm improvement observed in other studies that looked at diets rich in omega-3, antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, selenium and zinc, and folate.

Nuts are rich in many of these nutrients.

The study results were presented at a meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona.

Does this mean that men hoping to conceive a child should add nuts to their diet?

“We can’t yet say that,” said study co-author Albert Salas-Huetos of the Rovira i Virgili University in Spain.

“But evidence is accumulating in the literature that healthy lifestyle changes such as following a healthy dietary pattern might help conception — and of course, nuts are a key component of a Mediterranean healthy diet.”

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