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Tips for a Heart Healthy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is about enjoying time with our family and celebrating with traditional foods we know and love. Unfortunately, many of those foods are packed with fat, sodium, sugar and too many calories. Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season and many people say the start of the holiday weight gain. Eating healthy starting with Thanksgiving will help you stay on track the rest of the season. 

Make healthy substitutions for butter and cream

To replace butter in recipes, choose heart-healthy options like extra virgin olive oil, high-oleic safflower oil, organic canola oil or macadamia nut oil. This goes for baking as well as sautéing, enriching stuffing, etc. To replace heavy cream in soups or sauces – or even mashed potatoes – try soy yogurt which is essentially a thickened nut milk. 

Use whole grains

Less white flour means fewer empty calories and carbs. White whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour are superior substitutes. Use them for your baking, and try whole grain breads for your stuffing. Find ways to work in whole grains like quinoa and barley into the meal – there’s no rule that stuffing has to be made with bread, and gluten-free folks will appreciate an alternative, too.

Avoid the salt

Try starting with one third the amount called for in a recipe (except for baking recipes) and go from there. You’ll be surprised that you don’t miss it. Use lemon juice to brighten the flavors of vegetables, which will reduce the need for salt. If you are using commercial broths, be sure to look for the lowest sodium brands you can find.

Eat your veggies

Instead of one vegetable side dish, why not serve four or five? Be sure to include some superstar vegetables like kale, Brussels sprouts and broccoli so you can load up on antioxidants. The more vegetables on your plate, the less carbs and sugar you’ll eat during the meal.

Stay away from processed foods

Processed foods tend to be high in salt, calories and unhealthy fats. Avoid them as much as possible, and you’re already well on your way to a healthier holiday.

Be mindful of the sweets

Yes, you’re going to eat dessert this Thanksgiving – but consider lighter alternatives like baked apples.  To make up for dessert, eliminate the sugar in other places, such as in your sweet potatoes and cranberries. Try chopping and roasting sweet potatoes with savory herbs and spices instead of making a traditional sugary sweet casserole, and serve a less-sweet cranberry sauce. Bring sweetness to the table with naturally sweet vegetables like beets and with fresh fruit in salads. Remember, sugars also come from carbs, so do yourself a favor and don’t serve bread with your meal. It’s really the last thing you need, especially if bread stuffing is on the menu.

Healthy Hearts at Thanksgiving

At Brookhaven Heart, we believe in supporting our patients on their journey to heart health. Don’t skip the family get-togethers, just be mindful of what you are eating. From preventative care to treatment and surgery, we’re your heart health partner every step of the way. To learn more about how we can help you improve your heart health or treat existing conditions, give us a call today. We have three offices to serve you: Patchogue, New Hyde Park, and Hicksville, NY.

Welcome to Brookhaven Heart

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