Think low-cholesterol desserts aren't worth eating? Here, top nutrition experts share their secrets to satisfying a sweet tooth with something delicious and heart-healthy.
Focus on Fruit "Try a baked apple, poached pear, a bowl of sorbet topped with diced mango. Or, snack on frozen blueberries, or dunk fresh strawberries in a little fat-free dark chocolate syrup," recommends Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, author of "Eat Your Way to Happiness" (Harlequin, 2009).
Make-Your-Own Baked Goods To satisfy a sweet tooth the healthy way, "Try to bake something yourself", suggests Marlo Mittler, MS, RD of Foodwize nutrition consulting (NY). "I suggest that clients use low-fat recipes, such as using 1% milk or egg whites in the ingredients instead of using whole milk or whole eggs. I also recommend grinding up a high-fiber cereal (in a coffee bean grinder) and adding it to the batter of a muffin or cake mix to increase the fiber content."
"We know that fiber helps to flush cholesterol, so this allows you to enjoy a sweet and flush cholesterol at the same time. Berries and whipped cream are another healthy option, as one cup of berries yields about 5 grams of cholesterol-lowering fiber," adds Mittler.
Try Dark Chocolate Dark chocolate is the cholesterol-friendly choice of Alice Trivas, RD, CD of the Center for Nutrition, Salt Lake City, Utah. "The 'high end' brands (and ones rich in cocoa) tend to be the highest in nutrients, though you want to be conscious of their caffeine content. Also, I would tell clients that having sweets as a part of the diet isn't the most likely culprit in high cholesterol level, unless your original diet was heavily based on sweets. Enjoy sweets moderately, the key being enjoy," notes Trivas.
Make-Your-Own Filling "For a dessert that is sweet but low in fat and cholesterol, try 0% fat ricotta cheese sweetened with xylitol. Add almond extract, and some dark chocolate powder, and mix all together. This is a mock mocha canoli filling," offers Marietta Amatangelo, MS, RD, Integrative & Functional Medicine Nutritionist at the George Washington Center for Integrative Medicine in Washington, DC.
An Apple A Day Karen S. Vartan RD, Med, dietitian in Silver Spring, Maryland, offers her personal experience to readers: "Apples have a remarkable effect on cholesterol reduction. I am 61 years old and lowered my cholesterol from 212 to 179 by eating an apple, some oats, and performing 30 minutes of exercise four days every week. I did not change anything else!" says Vartan.
Karen shares her apple preparation tricks:
Halve a large apple, fill the core with a bit of jam, add chopped almonds, and microwave it for 2-3 minutes.
Coarsely chop a cored apple, place pieces in a small, greased pan; sprinkle with a seasoned oat mixture and bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes. To make the oat topping, mix old-fashioned oats (2 Tbsp) with a bit of oat bran (2 tsp) and wet with apple, or orange juice or apricot nectar (1/3 c). Let sit for 15 minutes. Mix in one tsp of Butter Buds "butter;" sprinkle over chopped apples; dust with nutmeg and apple pie spice; and decorate with a few almonds. Bake as directed.
Chop a fresh apple into bite-size chunks and drizzle with mock "fudge" sauce. To make the mock fudge sauce, mix 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder with 1 tablespoon of a sugar-sweetener blend. Add 2-3 Tbsp of water and microwave 40 seconds or until dissolved. Stir to smooth. Additional water or cocoa powder can be used to adjust thickness. Adding a drop of vanilla, a pinch of cinnamon and two red pepper flakes, which intensifies the chocolate flavor.
Personal Interview Elizabeth Somer 2/22/11
Personal Interview Marlo Mittler 2/22/11
Personal Interview Alice Trivas 2/22/11
Personal Interview Marietta Amatangelo 2/22/11
Personal Interview Karen S. Vartan 2/22/11