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Low-Cholesterol, Heart-Healthy Thanksgiving

Seven Steps for a Heart-Healthy Thanksgiving


Updated January 25, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Wondering how to prepare a low-cholesterol, heart-healthy Thanksgiving? The key to success is planning ahead for simple modifications. Follow these seven helpful tips for a delicious, heart-healthy Thanksgiving meal you and your family will love.

Plan Ahead

Look for low-cholesterol and low-fat Thanksgiving recipes. You can find plenty of recipes on About.com's Low-Fat Cooking site. If guests will be bringing dishes, ask that they follow heart-healthy guidelines in foods that they prepare or purchase. Stock your kitchen with ingredients such as low-fat and reduced fat dairy products, egg substitute, non-fat cooking spray, fat-free soups, and whole wheat flour for low-cholesterol holiday cooking.

Start with Superfoods

Plan to include plenty of low-cholesterol superfoods in your Thanksgiving dinner menu. Try adding Baked Pears With Walnuts or Low-fat Mashed Sweet Potatoes to your menu.

The Main Event

When it comes to turkey, plan to flavor with a fantastic herb rub rather than butter. Choose light meat over dark meat, aim for a 4 ounce portion, and remember to remove the skin.

Watch Your Portions

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 200 mg daily of dietary cholesterol for individuals with high cholesterol or being treated for high cholesterol . One cup of roasted turkey has 105 mg of dietary cholesterol, so load up on "real vegetable" sides to keep your cholesterol intake low.

Vegetable sides are dishes such as sautéed green beans or green beans topped with toasted almonds and a touch of lemon, not a traditional green bean casserole made with full-fat cheese and milk.

Drink Up

Limit alcohol and stay busy sipping calorie-free fluids such as water, seltzer, and diet iced tea. This will help prevent you from overeating. Need some variety? Throw berries, melon, or cucumber into a pitcher with ice to make your own delicious flavored water.

Smart Seconds

If you have cleared your plate and are looking for seconds, start with seconds of salad or vegetable sides before mashed potatoes or meat.


Remember that food is only part of Thanksgiving! Focusing on enjoying the company of your friends and family can help you resist the urge to overeat. Plan on playing family games or get the gang together for a game of touch football or a walk.

Enjoy your low-cholesterol Thanksgiving!

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  5. Holiday Meal Tips
  6. Healthy Thanksgiving - Low Fat Healthy Thanksgiving for Those with High Cholesterol

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