Cholesterol-Friendly Comfort Food
Think having high cholesterol means saying goodbye to all-American comfort foods, "adios" to Mexican fare, or "ciao" to Italian cuisine? With some smart ingredient swaps, you can still enjoy all your favorites. Here are eight ways to keep classic dishes on the menu.
Whip Up an Egg-White Omelet
Keep eggs on your Sunday brunch menu by opting for an egg-white omelet. Substituting two egg whites for every whole egg saves you 186 milligrams of cholesterol. Hate to waste the yolks? Use zero-cholesterol egg substitute instead (1/4 cup equals one whole egg). Fill your omelet with steamed veggies, a little sprinkle of part-skim mozzarella cheese, and a dollop of salsa for a tasty, low-cholesterol breakfast.
Healthy Mexican Food
Cheese-smothered enchiladas and monster-sized burritos give Mexican cuisine a muy bad reputation. But traditional Mexican fare highlights reasonable portions and lots of cholesterol-lowering ingredients, including beans, corn, avocado, and squash. Skip the fried tortilla chips, choose corn rather than higher-calorie flour tortillas, opt for dishes with grilled seafood or chicken, and order your beans whole rather than refried. For extra credit, garnish your food with fresh salsa instead of sour cream.
Healthy Breakfast Pancakes
A stack of flapjacks drenched in maple syrup and a generous pat of butter isn't a cholesterol-smart start to the day, but savvy changes can help you keep them on the griddle. Start by making a multigrain version using a combo of whole-wheat pastry flour, buckwheat flour, and rolled oats. Substitute two egg whites for each whole egg in the recipe, and whip the whites to make your pancakes extra fluffy. Swap the maple syrup for blueberries, and trade the butter for margarine fortified with plant sterols. Now you're talkin'.
Are Hamburgers Healthy?
Nothing satisfies quite like a juicy burger, and cholesterol-friendly choices can make it more than an occasional treat. Opt for smart-size, 3-ounce patties made with 90% lean ground beef to trim the saturated fat (and cholesterol). Replace some of the meat with cooked bulgur or finely chopped mushrooms to slash the cholesterol even more. Keep an eye on the extras, too. Use a whole-grain bun, add a slice of creamy, cholesterol-lowering avocado instead of cheese, and slather on mustard rather than mayo.
Comforting and filling, lasagna is one of the world's perfect casseroles. But when it's layered with lots of cheese, it can be a cholesterol bomb. Keep it in your weekly dinner rotation by using whole-wheat noodles and choosing the right cheese. Switch from whole-milk ricotta cheese to part-skim ricotta cheese and you'll cut the cholesterol by 40% per cup. Use low-fat cottage cheese or tofu to slash the cholesterol even more. Be sure to add lots of tasty vegetables, such as mushrooms for "meaty" flavor and spinach for color.
Order Healthy Chinese Food
Chinese takeout can be a lifesaver on busy weeknights, but choose carefully to sidestep cholesterol and sodium. Hot-and-sour soup, steamed dumplings, and entrees that are steamed or lightly stir-fried are better choices than fatty egg-drop soup, egg rolls, or deep-fried specialties. Choose dishes with lots of vegetables and light sauces, and order your food prepared without MSG, soy sauce, or added salt to keep sodium in check. Ask for steamed brown rice on the side instead of fried white rice.
Make Steak Healthy
You don't have to kick juicy steaks off the grill because you have high cholesterol. Just choose the right cut of beef. Trade well-marbled rib eye or porterhouse for lean tenderloin, flank steak, or filet mignon, and trim away any excess fat. Even better, use grass-fed beef, which has 25% less saturated fat and 20% less cholesterol than grain-fed beef. (Cooking tip: Marinate super-lean grass-fed beef before grilling.) Don't overdo it. RealAge recommends no more than one 3-ounce serving of red meat a week.
Dig Into Dessert
Like to finish dinner with a little something sweet? Here's the good news: You can enjoy a luscious dessert and improve your cholesterol. Instead of ice cream, reach for rich, creamy nonfat Greek yogurt. A recent study found that older women who ate at least a half-cup of yogurt a day had higher levels of helpful HDL cholesterol. For even more cholesterol-fighting punch, top your yogurt with shaved dark chocolate and a handful of blueberries.