Now, how do we enjoy the holidays without compromising our heart health? Here are some simple tips.
When cooking at home
Be creative. Substitute bad fats with good fats. And look at the total fats as well. There’s a whole load of cholesterol-free recipe books out there. Or download recipes from the Internet. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends The Best Healthy Soul Food Recipes cookbook.
Go for the vegetable recipes. If you have to go for meat, then go for lean meat and slim down the gravy. Here’s a tip from the AHA:
With poultry, use the leaner light meat (breast) instead of the fattier dark meat (legs and thighs) and be sure to remove the skin. Use a rack in the pan so the meat or poultry doesn’t sit in its own fat drippings. Instead of basting with pan drippings, use fat-free liquids like wine, low-sodium tomato juice or lemon juice. When making gravy from the drippings, chill first, then use a gravy strainer or skim ladle to remove the fat.
When shopping for food
At the supermarket, check for the AHA heart-check mark. Product with this mark “has been screened and verified to meet the AHA’a certification criteria to be low in saturated fat and cholesterol for healthy people over age 2.”
And if the nutritional facts on the packaging challenge you, check out this resource from the US FDA – How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label. It can be downloaded free of charge from the FDA site in pdf and comes with a video.
When going to parties or eating out
Take care of what to take from the buffet or order from the menu. Avoid the wrap-type food, according to this webMD article. Go for something that you recognize. Sushi is usually low fat. Forget the cheese unless you are sure they are the reduced-fat kind. Go for the raw vegetable cuts but take it easy on the dips and the dressings. They can be loaded with fat as well. A little bit of nuts would also great as long as you are not allergic to them.
You don’t have to make do without the turkey. Just go for the lean part and avoid the skin. Take it easy on the on the rich gravy. The cranberry sauce is a healthier alternative.
Go for small portions with variety. It makes the food more interesting with being fattening.
Water is the best choice but unsweetened fruit juices are also fine. Remember that alcohol is full of calories. But if you must imbibe, then go for red wine and drink in moderation.
Now, when partying this holiday season, don’t follow the “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you shall die” principle. Instead, eat and drink wisely, be merry, and live a long life.
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