During the holidays, families gather together. Many will prepare meals that fit their holiday and family traditions. While certain meals can hold a special place in our hearts, it’s important to think about how meals are prepared in a healthy way or not.
When cooking meats in oil, select oils that are monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat, such as canola oil, vegetable oil, peanut oil, or sesame oil, instead of saturated or trans fats. Saturated and trans fats increase the risk of heart disease. You can also opt to cook meats in healthier ways, such as baked, grilled, or broiled, to reduce the amount of fats added to cooking.
Salts can also find their way into recipes in high amounts. Salt can be hidden in condiments, packaged and canned foods, chicken stock, beef stock, vegetable stock, and bouillon cubes. To lower your salt intake when preparing holiday meals, try using herbs and spices instead of salt and limit condiments high in sodium. Also, use fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned; if you need canned vegetables and beans, choose low-sodium or no-salt-added options.
Desserts are a fun part of many holiday meals, but too much sugar can cause issues to anyone’s health. Foods and drinks high in sugar can lead to weight gain and an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. To reduce sugar in desserts, swap sugar for healthier alternatives such as stevia, agave, honey, or artificial sweeteners.
The American Heart Association provides many holiday recipes that are not only tasty but also heart-healthy. To find a heart-healthy recipe, check out their website here.
- American Heart Association https://recipes.heart.org/en/collections/lifestyles/holiday
- Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/artificial-sweeteners/art-20046936
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