Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Cholesterol & Triglycerides Health Center

Font Size

Holiday Foods for the Cholesterol-Conscious

Watching your cholesterol level needn't take the fun out of holiday feasts.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

If your doctor has warned you to watch what you eat because of high blood cholesterol levels, it doesn't mean you have to skip all your favorite holiday foods at dinners and parties. With a bit of creativity in how you cook, what you choose from a buffet, or how you order in a restaurant, you can feel satisfied and festive while taking care of your health.

Sure, there are holiday foods to avoid, or at least minimize, but you can still enjoy most foods you like with a little know-how.

Recommended Related to Cholesterol Management

Kitchen Makeover for a Low Cholesterol Diet

Let's say you've decided to get serious about reducing your cholesterol. You've committed to exercising more regularly, losing some weight, and starting a low cholesterol diet. But your kitchen, alas, is still full of the not-so-healthy foods you love. It's time to make over your kitchen -- and you don't have to knock out walls, replace appliances, or even paint the cabinets. Instead, dieticians recommend: Getting rid of as much unhealthy food as you can. Replacing it with heart-healthy...

Read the Kitchen Makeover for a Low Cholesterol Diet article > >

The first thing to know? You need to be aware not just about how much cholesterol lurks in the foods you eat but also the fat, because it also raises cholesterol. "The saturated fat is more important than the cholesterol," says Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, LD, RD, the director of nutrition for WebMD. "Look at the saturated fat but also at total fat; it's going to have an impact."

Your holiday mission, then, is to look at your holiday diet and minimize your intake of fat and cholesterol while still enjoying yourself. Zelman and other nutrition experts insist it's possible. Here's how, from the first toast to the dessert.

A Slimmer Eggnog or Other Toast

If you love to toast the season with an eggnog or two, be aware: One cup of regular eggnog has 343 calories, 19 grams of fat (more than 11 grams of that saturated) and 150 milligrams of cholesterol.

But there are alternatives. "There are a lot of lower-fat eggnogs on the market now," says Jeannie Gazzaniga Moloo, RD, PhD, a Roseville, Calif., dietitian and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

You may have to taste-test a few to find one closest to the real thing.

If eggnog is something you love, "go for a small amount," Zelman says, even if it's the full-fat stuff. You could also consider starting a new toasting tradition -- with cider or wine, says Zelman. Both are kinder to cholesterol-watchers. And studies say one glass of wine a day for women, two for men helps protect your heart.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Is Your Cholesterol Level Heart Healthy?
What is your LDL (low-density lipoprotein) level?

Get the latest Cholesterol Management newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Desirable
0-199
Borderline
200-239
High
240+

Your level is currently

Congratulations! Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal.

Congratulations! Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is borderline high. If your LDL goes higher, your total cholesterol level could become Borderline High. Consider reducing the amount of foods you eat with saturated fats and increasing physical activity. If you get more exercise, your level of "good" HDL cholesterol may increase, which could also help to keep your levels of LDL and total cholesterol in check.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. This may mean that your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, is too low. It is best to have a high level of "good" HDL and a low level of "bad" LDL. The HDL helps keep your LDL level in check. Ask your doctor for your HDL level. If your HDL is low, increasing your physical activity can increase it, which may help reduce your LDL level.

Your total cholesterol level is in the Desirable range, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. This may mean that your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, is too low. It is best to have a high level of "good" HDL and a low level of "bad" LDL because the HDL helps keep your LDL level in check. Ask your doctor for your HDL level. If your HDL is low, increasing your physical activity can increase it, which may help reduce your LDL level.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. But your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe medication, such as statins. Following medication, dietary, and exercise instructions should result in improvements.

Your total cholesterol level is High, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe statins or other cholesterol-lowering medications.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

cholesterol lab test report
Article
Compressed heart
Article
 
Compressed heart
Article
chocolate glazed donut and avocado
SLIDESHOW
 
Heart Foods Slideshow
Slideshow
Cholesterol Fact or Fiction
Quiz
 
Food & Fitness Planner
TOOL
Attractive salad
ARTICLE
 
Heart Disease Overview Slideshow
SLIDESHOW
worst sandwich slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
Fat Foods Fit Foods
SLIDESHOW
Bad Cholesterol
VIDEO
 

WebMD Special Sections