Heart-healthy foods for the holidays

Nov 18, 2011, 8:39 a.m.

Heart-healthy holiday dining -- is there really such a thing? Yes! You can enjoy many of your favorite holiday foods without doing your heart or overall health mischief. It just takes a little planning, self-discipline and common sense. Let's look at some smart ways to eat, drink and be merry:

Gobble up turkey (instead of other meats). Turkey typically has less saturated fat and cholesterol than roast beef or ham -- and it's already established as a traditional holiday entree, so no one will bat an eye if you stick to this old favorite. Go for the white meat, avoid gravies -- and don't fry it!

Bulk up with veggies. Salads are loaded with fiber to fill you up and keep you feeling satisfied, so you're less inclined to overeat. They're also chock full of vitamins. Keep your salad heart-healthy by topping it off with a low-fat dressing.

Cook smart. Take some time to pick out recipes that use low-fat or low-sodium alternatives to traditional cooking methods. Steaming, baking or boiling beats frying with animal fats, not just as holiday time but anytime. Sugarless desserts offer fewer calories, and a slimmer waistline means less stress on the heart.

Watch your beverages. Yes, a glass of wine or two each day can support heart health, but more than that can have the opposite effect. If you're taking heart medication or other prescription drugs, make sure you know whether these substances will interact with alcohol. And stay away from the egg nog, which is usually full of fat.

Have a happy, healthy holiday!

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