Eggnog, prime rib, and green bean casserole are a few holiday favorites that are packed with flavor. Unfortunately, they’re also packed with fat and cholesterol. Simply put, the holidays can be a disastrous temptation for individuals who are concerned with their heart health.
But, with a little knowledge and a dose of self-control, it’s just as easy to breeze through holiday meals with an emphasis on healthy foods. If you’ve been diligently watching your cholesterol throughout the year, try to stick to the same plan during the holidays. Get plenty of fiber, look for heart-healthy unsaturated fats, avoid saturated fats, and pass on the trans fats.
Here are five low-cholesterol foods to put at the top of your Thanksgiving or Christmas menu.
It’s true that nuts are filled with fat, but keep in mind that it’s the good kind of fat (unsaturated). Plus, they’re also loaded with plant sterols, which can help lower cholesterol levels. A small handful of almonds will give you 9 grams of monounsaturated fat. Walnuts are great, too. Just one-quarter cup provides for 95 percent of your daily omega-3 fats, another cholesterol-lowering compound.
Look for nuts that are plain or simply spiced. Beware of nuts loaded with salt or sugar.
Vegetables are an important part of a low-cholesterol diet because of their fiber content. That fiber can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Broccoli, spinach, carrots, and cauliflower are good choices.
At the dinner table, look for vegetables that are prepared as plainly as possible. Good examples are steamed green beans, roasted sweet potatoes, or crudités.
3. Turkey breast
That Thanksgiving turkey is awfully tempting and there’s no reason not to indulge a little. The white meat of a turkey is one of the healthiest meats available. Even though it does contain a fair bit of cholesterol, it’s low in fat and calories.
Be sure to avoid the drippings and strip off the skin before you bite in to your slice of turkey.
4. Smoked salmon
Smoked salmon is a holiday delicacy for many families. Thankfully, it’s pretty healthy, too! Salmon is naturally full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and low in saturated fat. It also helps increase the good kind of cholesterol (HDL).
Make sure you stick with smoked, broiled, grilled, or steamed salmon – we recently shared one of our favorite salmon recipes, triglyceride-fighting Flax Seed Salmon. Fried fish is not a cholesterol-friendly food.
5. Dark chocolate
If you need a holiday dessert fix, dark chocolate is one of the best choices. The cocoa in dark chocolate has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and decrease the risk of blood clots.
But definitely try to stick with plain dark chocolate and avoid the extra ingredients, such as marshmallows, caramel, etc.
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What’s your favorite holiday food? How could you make it more heart-friendly?