5 Ways to Prepare Cholesterol-Friendly Appetizers

When you’re planning for a party, appetizers are usually a hit. Not only are many of them easy to prepare, appetizers can always fit into any party theme whether you are needing snacks for watching the big game with friends or something to nosh on before an elaborate dinner.

Many appetizers on a table

Elena Elisseeva / istockphoto

Although appetizers are small and may look innocent enough, they can add up, heaping calories on top of what you’ve already eaten that day or what you will eat during the main course. Additionally, some of these appetizers can also contain hidden saturated fat and sugar, which could wreck your cholesterol-lowering diet. This article will show you the ins and outs of preparing cholesterol-friendly appetizers if you are trying to watch your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

You Can Never Go Wrong With Veggies

Vegetables fit into any healthy diet, and there are ways to convert plain veggies into a tasty appetizer that everyone will rave about. You can never go wrong with a raw veggie platter — cucumbers, carrots, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower are common vegetables used on such appetizers. But if you decide to serve your vegetables with other foods, you should make sure that they are paired with other cholesterol-friendly ingredients such as nuts, fruit, whole grains, or legumes. Some ingredients — such as creams, bacon, and cheeses — can add extra saturated fat to your diet, so they should be limited.

Lean Meats

Finger foods made up of meat are also commonly-served appetizers. If you decide to serve appetizers like this, you should make sure that you use lean meats — such as chicken or turkey — instead of meats high in saturated fat, which would include beef and ham. Additionally, the use of processed meats, including hot dogs, bologna, and salami should also be minimized if not avoided due to their high fat and calorie content in comparison to other meats. If you are looking to cut your calories from your appetizers even more, you could also try substituting a fattier meat with your favorite fish or tofu.

When preparing your meaty appetizers, you should make sure that you do not deep-fry them, as this could introduce unhealthy trans fats to the food. Instead, try grilling, broiling, or roasting your meat to avoid adding extra fat. To liven your protein up a little bit, you could:

  • Try experimenting with spices. Adding spices to your lean meat, fish, or tofu is also a great way to enhance the taste of the appetizer without adding a lot of calories.
  • Use a healthy condiment. Another way to add flavor is to add a healthy spread or sauce. You shouldn't add too much of these and you should make sure that they are low in sugar and fat. Good examples would be mustard, Tabasco sauce, or salsa.

Healthy Dips

Dips can be served with your favorite vegetables, sandwiches, meats, and more. They are the item that can make an appetizer delicious but it can also be the single part of an appetizer that can add calories. To cut calories and fat, you should always serve dips on the side. This will allow you and your guests to get the amount of dip needed without consuming too many calories.

Cholesterol-friendly dips include salsa, hummus, and bean dip. Whenever you are in doubt, always check the food labels on your dip to make sure that the saturated fat and carbohydrate content is low.

Filling Mini-Wraps and Finger Sandwiches

Bite-sized sandwiches, tarts, and wraps are also crowd-pleasers. Not only are they filling, but you can also switch these up to include a variety of healthy ingredients that everyone will enjoy.

Despite how easy it is to make these sandwich-like delights, it is also easy to accidentally add high-fat ingredients to them. You can reduce fat and sugar in these appetizers with the following healthy tips:

  • Use whole grain or whole wheat flatbreads for your wraps or sandwiches instead of using white breads since these may contain refined sugars. In some cases, you can use a slice of lean meat or a large lettuce leaf instead of the bread, especially if you are preparing wraps.
  • Leafy greens are a low-fat way to create bulk to your wraps and sandwiches without adding excess calories. Greens such as arugula, romaine lettuce, kale, and spinach can be added to practically any finger food.
  • Watch your condiments. Some condiments, such as mayonnaise and some dressings, are high in fat and sugar and should be used sparingly on these foods. You can use low-fat forms of these condiments, or you can substitute them with a condiment that is not high in saturated fat and sugar, such as mustard or horseradish.

Don't Overdo It

Lastly, don't go overboard. Chances are that if there are appetizers, you will be eating a large meal afterward. To avoid consuming all of your calories in appetizers, you should use a small plate and grab a few appetizers at a time instead of grazing directly from the appetizer tray or plat. This will help you to keep track of what you are eating. Additionally, loading up on fruit and veggies will add low-calorie, nutritious foods to your meal and will also help you to feel full faster, preventing you from going for seconds and thirds on appetizers.

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