Tips for a Low-Cholesterol, Heart-Healthy Thanksgiving Meal

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

Whether you are cooking the whole meal, bringing one dish—or primarily eating—there are a number of things you can do to make the holiday a little healthier.

Roasted turkey in a serving platter on a wooden table
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

Plan Ahead

Look for low-cholesterol and low-fat Thanksgiving recipes. Stock your kitchen with heart-healthy ingredients such as eggs, low-fat and reduced-fat dairy products, low-fat cooking spray or oil, and fat-free soups for low-cholesterol holiday cooking. Recent research has found that eating eggs is better for your cholesterol metabolism than consuming egg substitutes.

If guests will be bringing dishes, ask them to consider heart-healthy guidelines.

Start With Superfoods

Plan to include plenty of low-cholesterol superfoods in your Thanksgiving dinner menu. Heart-healthy foods include vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.

The Main Event

It is not necessarily clear whether certain parts of the turkey, such as dark meat portions or light meat portions, are higher in cholesterol, but adding additional cholesterol-rich ingredients to the turkey (like butter or lard) will raise the overall cholesterol in the dish.

When it comes to turkey, consider flavoring with a fantastic herb rub rather than with butter, which adds to the cholesterol.

Watch Your Portions

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends no more than 100-300 mg average daily intake of dietary cholesterol. One cup of roasted turkey has 105 mg of dietary cholesterol, so consider loading up on vegetable sides to keep your cholesterol intake low.

Vegetable sides that are recommended for heart health include dishes such as sautéed green beans or greens topped with toasted almonds and a touch of lemon, not the traditional green bean casserole made with full-fat cheese and milk.

Drink Up

Alcohol consumption has a complex effect on cardiovascular health. Depending on your overall health and risk factors for heart disease, your doctor may recommend that you limit or avoid alcohol.

If you need to (or want to) avoid excessive alcohol intake at Thanksgiving, you can sip on calorie-free alternatives such as water, seltzer, and diet iced tea. Keep in mind that low-calorie drinks can prevent you from overeating and may also help reduce your overall calorie consumption. 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, which lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, instead of loading up on buttery mashed potatoes, cheesy toppings, or meat.

A Word From Verywell

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 heart healthy, low-cholesterol Thanksgiving!

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bergeron N, Chiu S, Williams PT, M king S, Krauss RM. Effects of red meat, white meat, and nonmeat protein sources on atherogenic lipoprotein measures in the context of low compared with high saturated fat intake: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2019;pii:nqz035. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqz035

  2. Lemos BS, Medina-vera I, Blesso CN, Fernandez ML. Intake of 3 eggs per day when compared to a choline bitartrate supplement, downregulates cholesterol synthesis without changing the LDL/HDL ratio. Nutrients. 2018;10(2). doi:10.3390/nu10020258

  3. Dinu M, Pagliai G, Sofi F. A heart-healthy diet: recent insights and practical recommendations. Curr Cardiol Rep. 2017;19(10):95. doi:10.1007/s11886-017-0908-0

  4. US Department of Agriculture. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines.

  5. American Heart Association. Prevention and treatment of high cholesterol (hyperlipidemia). Updated April 30, 2017.

  6. Rehm J, Roerecke M. Cardiovascular effects of alcohol consumption. Trends Cardiovasc Med. 2017;27(8):534-538. doi:10.1016/j.tcm.2017.06.002

  7. Leahy M, Ratliff JC, Riedt CS, Fulgoni VL. Consumption of low-calorie sweetened beverages compared to water Is associated with reduced intake of carbohydrates and sugar, with no adverse relationships to glycemic responses: results from the 2001-2012 national health and nutrition examination surveys. Nutrients. 2017;9(9) doi:10.3390/nu9090928

Related Articles