Consuming Eastern European Cuisine on a Low-Fat Diet

Eastern European cooking
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Eastern European cooking actually encompasses the cuisine of many different countries, including Hungary, Russia, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria. Although there are slight regional differences and influences associated with this type of cuisine, the dishes are simple, hearty and contain a variety of vegetables, proteins, grains and dairy depending on availability in the region. Eastern European cuisine is a great comfort food, but along with that, you may find hidden saturated fat in some of these dishes. These tips will show you how to enjoy this delicious cuisine when you are following a lipid-lowering diet.


Sometimes, even the appetizers can make you full. Many Eastern European appetizers consist of vegetables, breads, and proteins, such as fish, sausage, meat, and ham. Common vegetables that you would see in appetizers include beets, cucumbers, and asparagus. Pickling vegetables is a common practice in Eastern European cooking, however, this may add extra salt to the dish, so you may want to limit foods prepared this way if you are watching your sodium intake. Appetizers containing fish are also a safe bet if you are watching your cholesterol. However, you should limit your use of cured meats, sausage, and red meat in your appetizers since this can introduce fat into your diet. 

Soups and Salads

Eastern European salads and soups contain an abundance of vegetables and other ingredients – and can be sometimes so large and filling that they can actually qualify as a main course. Both dishes are highly flexible – giving you a large selection of foods to choose from if you are watching your heart health. Soups contain generous portions of foods such as beans, vegetables, and proteins. However, you should beware of soups containing creams and processed meats, which can add saturated fat to your dish. For salads, you should request any cream-based dressings to be added to the side in order to avoid introducing extra calories. Alternatively, you could toss in citrus fruits or pomegranate seeds to add additional flavor to your salad – without the fat.


The sides found in Eastern European cuisine are many— giving you a wide variety of choices when you selecting healthy sides for your heart-healthy diet. Unfortunately, there are some things you can add to these sides that could derail your healthy diet. Some vegetable sides in this cuisine may be creamed, which can increase the amount of saturated fat in the meal. Therefore, you should avoid this method of preparation and use more cholesterol-friendly methods for preparing your vegetables —such as baking, steaming, roasting or lightly sautéing. Many sides may also contain cream-based toppings or gravies— which are another source of saturated fat. Luckily, if your sides call for these toppings, you can use a low-fat version instead.

Main Course

Eastern European entrees are as varied as the other dishes contained in this delicious cuisine; however, the entrees typically contain a protein, veggies, and may be served with potatoes, bread, or noodles. To make your entrée more cholesterol-friendly, you should include whole grain noodles or wheat bread for recipes that call for these items. While poultry, fish, and seafood are relatively leaner in fat and are okay to consume if you are watching your fat intake, fattier meats, such as beef, ham, pork, and sausage should be used sparingly, or substituted with a leaner meat. The way you prepare these foods may also add extra fat and calories. For instance, roasting, grilling, and baking are healthy ways to prepare foods, whereas sautéing in butter or using creams may also be a source of added fat. 

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