6 Heart-Healthy Holiday Foods

6 Heart-Healthy Holiday Foods

November 25, 2013
by Michael Barber
6 Heart-Healthy Holiday Foods

The holidays offer a wonderful array of food to eat, from Thanksgiving turkey to Christmas ham, brisket and latkes on Hanukkah, and all the trimmings. But holiday food can be very fattening and loaded with cholesterol. Here are 6 heart-healthy holiday foods to add to your menu.

Related: The Health Benefits of Pumpkin (and a Pumpkin Cannelloni Recipe)

Sweet Potatoes

High in fiber, vitamins, beta carotene, and potassium, sweet potatoes are a great heart-healthy food to add to your holiday meals. You can bake them like a regular potato, mash them, or turn them into a casserole. To maintain the healthy benefits, try not to add too many unhealthy toppings, like marshmallows and butter. Try maple syrup instead.

Brussels Sprouts

Another heart-healthy holiday food is Brussels sprouts. They are low-calorie and loaded with fiber, as well as protein, Vitamin C, and folic acid. To add some holiday spice to this side dish. simply toss them into a saute pan with a little salt and pepper and then sprinkle on some grated parmesan cheese before serving.

Apples

Apples help prevent bad cholesterol from causing a buildup of plaque in your arteries, which can lead to heart disease. They're also high in fiber. For a warm and hearty winter recipe, try a baked apple fritata, apple upside-down cake, or a classic apple pie.

Related: From Apple Picking to Preserving: 4 Safety Tips for Fall Treats

Nuts

Roasted, unsalted nuts make a wonderful holiday snack. Mix several together and add a bowl to your appetizer table. Some of the best nuts for heart-health are almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, and pecans. Be sure to serve them fresh, just as they are. Adding toppings could also add unhealthy by-products your heart doesn't need. For a fun twist, add them to dishes such as stuffing and bread.

Fish

You may not think about serving fish as a main course for your holiday meal, but it's one of the healthiest foods for your heart. Loaded with Omega-3 Fatty Acids, fish provides an abundance of heart-healthy nutrients. Rather than replace your Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham with fish, use it as a side dish or even an appetizer

Dessert

Keep your heart-healthy holiday meal going all the way to the end. Prepare desserts that are as good for your heart as they are for your taste buds. You'll be surprised at some of the wonderful treats you can create that are good for your heart, such as Chocolate-Fudge Pudding Cake, Apple Cinnamon Fruit Bars, and Gingerbread Cranberry-Pear Cobbler. Serve decaf coffee and tea, hot cocoa with low-fat milk, and low-fat eggnog to accompy your healthy dessert.

Related: An Apple a Day May Not Keep the Doctor Away, But Here's What Will

There are several ways to work these heart-healthy foods into your holiday meal. You can also make a high-fiber cracker and hummus appetizer tray. Make your own gravy with low-sodium broth and skim milk to create healthy gravy rather than buying store-bought jars. Make your own stuffing too, with plenty of cut-up fruit and vegetables, whole wheat bread crumbs, and a limited amount of butter. By incorporating a few of these tasty items and simple tricks, you and your family can stay heart-healthy this holiday season.