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Score a Healthy Super Bowl With These Tips

More food is eaten on Super Bowl Sunday than any other holiday or celebration during the year, with the exception of Thanksgiving. With the quantity often comes unhealthy quality, including fried, dipped and calorie-heavy foods. And sitting four to five hours while watching the game on TV can sideline any weekend workout. But health experts say there are ways to tackle the temptations.

Dietitians and nutrition experts advise substituting traditional Super Bowl food items with healthier alternatives [1]. Americans will eat 1.35 million chicken wings on Super Bowl XLIV weekend, according to the National Chicken Council’s annual Chicken Wing Report.

Adding the Snack Food Association’s estimates of 11.2 million pounds of potato chips, 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips, 3.8 million pounds of popcorn and 3 million pounds of nuts also consumed during the annual professional football championship game, Americans on average eat 2,400 calories during the Super Bowl.

To avoid Monday-morning quarterbacking about what you shouldn’t have eaten the night before, consider one of these healthy recipes for your Super Bowl menu:

Exercise experts encourage getting up and moving around in between plays and time-outs, much like suggestions they make for healthy holiday eating [4].  Medical research continues to demonstrate the negative health consequences of sitting too long. The risks for a blood clot in a vein may rise with increased TV watching, according to a recent study [5].

The preliminary research, presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions, shows risk of blood clots [6] increases with the amount of time spent watching television – even in people who get the recommended amount of physical activity.

“Watching TV itself isn’t likely bad, but we tend to snack and sit still for prolonged periods while watching,” said Mary Cushman, M.D., co-author of the study and professor of medicine at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

An earlier study of adults between the ages of 40 and 79 found those who watched at least five hours of TV daily had double the risk of experiencing fatal pulmonary embolism as those who watched TV for 2.5 hours a day.

Other ways watching the Super Bowl game on TV can affect your health and how to stay on the offensive include:

Heart health. There have been several studies that correlate sporting events with strained heart health. A small research [7]study published recently in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology found the pulses of people watching a hockey game on TV increased by 75 percent. The risk of a cardiovascular event is most frequent when a team scores and especially high “at dramatic moments such as overtime,” the researchers found.  The study notes most of those affected had an underlying cardiovascular condition that put them at increased risk.

“Many cases of abnormal heartbeat result from anxiety and can resolve after a period of relaxation,” says Hakop Hrachian, M.D. [8], an electrophysiologist with Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute [9]. “If symptoms are severe, such as someone experiencing palpitations that cause a panic attack or shortness of breath accompanied with a rapid heartbeat, it’s best to see your doctor as soon as possible.”

Food-borne illnesses. To help Super Bowl fans avoid being the one out of every six people sickened by food poisoning each year, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is promoting “Four Steps to Food Safety [10]” to reduce the risks of eating bacteria-laden food. Their tips focus on paying attention to cleaning foods and surfaces, separating food types, cooking food to the right temperature and making sure it doesn’t sit out for more than two hours.