The Dish: Heart-Healthy Holiday Shopping

Updated:Jan 11,2014
Fats - The Dish with Dr. EckelThe holiday season is here, and with it come all the usual temptations – rich desserts, creamy casseroles and buttery rolls. From holiday parties to family dinners, sweet and savory treats are everywhere, making it hard not to indulge. But that’s OK – if there’s ever a time to treat yourself, it’s the holidays. Our goal at the American Heart Association is to help you choose more heart-healthy indulgences and limit foods with high levels of “bad” saturated and trans fats.

There’s no better place to start than at the grocery store.
Holiday meal planning that's delicious and heart-healthy is a snap if you follow a few simple tips while grocery shopping.

Start with our online tool, My Grocery List, to help select heart-healthy choices before you leave the house. Also, here are some ideas my wife and I always keep in mind when holiday shopping, from snacks, main courses to desserts:

  • Choose assorted unsalted nuts, fiber-rich crackers and raw vegetables with low-fat dressing or hummus for quick snacks or appetizers at a holiday party. These are great alternatives to a typical cheese platter that’s loaded with saturated fat.
  • If you like eggnog, be sure you buy the low-fat or fat-free version to cut down on calories and fat. Mulled apple cider is an even better choice.
  • Select fat-free evaporated milk to make mashed potatoes creamy. Use low-sodium chicken broth to get a little more flavor in your potatoes.
  • Stuffing mixes are holiday classics. Make your own colorful and heart-healthy version by mixing in dried cranberries, raisins and apricots instead of meat.
  • Skip the prepackaged gravy mixes and make your own! Low-sodium broth and skim milk make delicious and more heart-healthy gravy.
  • Avoid pre-packaged pumpkin pies – the crusts are typically filled with trans and saturated fats. Crustless pumpkin pies or angel food cakes with fresh or frozen berries are tasty alternatives. Skip pre-packaged cakes and cookies, too

What’s the most important tip to keep in mind while holiday grocery shopping? Make sure you read food labels. Aim to buy and prepare foods with more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, like canola, olive, soybean and sunflower oils, and less trans and saturated fats. Remember, trans fats are contained in partially hydrogenated oils, so try to avoid foods listing partially hydrogenated oils as an ingredient.

Holiday Healthy Eating Guide

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Let our heart be your guide.