Low Cholesterol, Heart-Healthy Recipes for the Holidays

heart-healthy recipesIt’s beginning to look like Christmas everywhere you go, and the grocery stores are filled with a gorgeous array of festive foodstuffs to make your mouth water. Making delicious, crowd-pleasing recipes is a top priority for anyone hosting holiday meals.

Holiday recipes are often loaded with unhealthy ingredients, however, which might make you think they will taste better. This simply isn’t the case.

It’s quite possible to make recipes that are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and salt, while still being deliciously tasty!

Tips for Creating Heart-Healthy Meals

Tip #1: Decrease the saturated fat and cholesterol.

It’s best to keep the saturated fats and cholesterol as low as possible in your recipes. Foods high in saturated fat and /or cholesterol include:

  • Fatty meat and poultry with skin
  • Beef fat (tallow)
  • Lard and cream
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Dairy products made from whole or reduced-fat (2 percent) milk
  • Egg yolk

Instead, replace the foods listed above with items that are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, such as:

  • Lean meats, chicken and fish.
  • Soft margarine, such as Smart Balance
  • Low fat cheese
  • Skim or 1% milk
  • Egg whites

Click here to find lean beef options you can choose.

Tip #2: Decrease the sodium.

It can be challenging to keep track of the quantity of sodium in food, particularly processed foods. If you have too much sodium, however, you encourage the build up of extra water in your body. This can cause problems ranging from hypertension to kidney disease, as well as fluid retention and swelling. Keep the sodium in your holiday meals down by:

  • Using low-sodium broths and canned products
  • Rinsing all canned vegetables and beans to wash away the excess salt
  • Reading nutrition labels to look for products that contain less than 300 mg of sodium per serving

And when you’re preparing a delicious home-cooked recipe that calls for salt, decrease it by at least half of the recommended amount.

Tip #3: Include healthy fats in your recipes, especially Omega 3 fats.

Healthy fats help improve your good cholesterol, also known as HDL cholesterol. Foods high in Omega 3 fats include:

  • Oily fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines
  • Walnuts and flaxseed
  • Canola and olive oil

Other sources of healthy fats are avocados, olive oil and most nuts and seeds.

Tip #4: Increase the fiber in your diet.

Fiber helps to lower your “bad” cholesterol, which is also known as LDL cholesterol. Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains, and you can boost your inclusion of these in the menu by:

  • Providing an abundance of vegetables as part of the meal
  • Using whole wheat grains instead of white, by offering whole-wheat rolls or substituting whole wheat flour in your recipes
  • Making fruit a part of your dessert table

By following these suggestions from our registered dietitians you can create delicious meals that are heart-healthy but will still be as popular as traditional fare.

We’ve provided a few recipes to get you started:

Chicken Thighs With Red Wine, Dried Plums and Garlic (View PDF)

Sizzled Green Beans with Pine Nuts (View PDF)

Quinoa Stuffing With Butternut Squash, Cranberries, and Toasted Pecans (View PDF)