Holiday Foods for the Cholesterol-Conscious
Watching your cholesterol level needn't take the fun out of holiday feasts.
Choose Your Appetizer
What buffet table full of appetizers isn't loaded down with cheeses? If you're headed to a wine-and-cheese party or a nibbling party, beware.
The wrap-type appetizers are among the worst, Zelman says, as far as figuring out your fat toll. "You don't know what's in the food you are going to eat." So steer clear of the wrap-type foods and go for something that's not such a mystery. Little grilled chicken skewers are probably a good bet, Zelman says. "Sushi would be great."
You can't expect a party hostess to put out reduced-fat cheese, but you can limit your portions, Moloo says, and then turn to substitutes that are as tasty. Nuts, for one. "An ounce of nuts is better than the cheese, since it's got monounsaturated fats," heart-healthier than saturated.
But calories "add up fast on nuts," Moloo warns. "A small handful is enough."
Once you're done with the nuts, try to graze the vegetable platter, if there is one, Moloo says. "Because of the fiber content, they can actually help lower cholesterol."
Never mind the saturated fat in the chips -- the dips are also loaded with fat. If you're the hostess, you can turn to low-fat dips, perhaps labeling them discretely for guests concerned about cholesterol.
If you're the guest, your best bet is to eat them sparingly -- or at least dip veggies in them, not chips.
Pick Your Meats Wisely
Eat all meat skinless, Moloo advises. And look for leaner cuts -- a filet, for instance, instead of cheaper beef cuts.
While casseroles of tuna and other meat are plentiful during the holidays -- and are often family favorites -- opt instead for a plain piece of meat if you can, says Moloo.
If turkey is a main course, breast white meat is the leaner cut, says Bethany Thayer, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and manager of Worksite Health Promotion at Henry Ford Health System, Detroit. "Instead of having the wings, have white meat," she says.
Choose the Right Fixings
What's turkey without a ladle or two of gravy, you say? "Gravy is chock full of saturated fat," Zelman says. It's on her holiday foods-to-avoid list. "Skip the gravy if you can." Or slim it down, if you're the cook, by making a turkey-broth gravy.
If you make your own stuffing, use oil instead of butter -- and less of it, Thayer says. "Look for ways to add fruits and vegetables." That will automatically make the stuffing lower in calories than adding butter -- and higher in fiber. Consider adding dried cherries, raisins, or cranberries, she says.