SATURDAY, Aug. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Choosing healthy foods to barbeque -- and even barbequing with marinades instead of high-fat sauces -- can help reduce your risk of heart disease as well as stroke, experts say.

Many common barbeque favorites, such as pork, ribs and even corn on the cob, are often slathered with rich sauces that are high in calories, fats and salt. There are, however, healthier ways to barbeque that are also delicious, according to Dr. Vivienne Halpern, a member of the Society for Vascular Surgery.

"Grilling lean meats and vegetables without heavy sauces are wonderful for the barbeque," explained Halpern in a society news release. "These can become your family's new favorites." A fresh salad and watermelon for dessert will make the meal complete, she suggested.

When firing up the grill, instead of barbequing hot dogs and hamburgers, Halpern suggested choosing lean proteins that are lower in fat, calories and cholesterol, such as chicken, fish, turkey, sirloin, turkey, buffalo or veggie burgers. Halpern also pointed out that olive oil-based marinades and lemon juice are healthier ways to add flavor to grilled meats and vegetables.

"It's true that we are what we eat," added Halpern. "Our food choices affect our caloric intake, cholesterol and sodium."

Halpern's recommendations underscore the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The guidelines urge Americans to eat more of the following:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat milk products
  • Lean meats, beans, eggs, nuts
  • Fish
  • Foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugar

Americans can also control their blood pressure and cholesterol, Halpern added, with moderate exercise (such as walking 30 minutes each day), not smoking and maintaining a healthy body weight.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has more about heart and vascular diseases.