5 Tips for a Low-Cholesterol Barbecue

Summer cookouts can feature foods that are cholesterol bombs, from fatty ribs and juicy burgers to chips and dip. But your summer cookout doesn't need to be a bust for your cholesterol. Just follow these top tips for a cholesterol-friendly and delicious meal.

Vegetables cooking on a barbecue
Lew Robertson / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images

Build a Better Burger

There are two things that will make your burger better -- portion size and meat type. A "proper" burger size is made from 4 oz. of raw meat, yet 6 to 8 ounces is more often the size people (and restaurants) make. That really adds up in terms of saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories (a 4-ounce patty, grilled, is 210 calories and 5 grams of saturated fat).

The second thing to consider is the type of meat you use. Look for extra lean ground beef, or choose a different type of meat. Bison is a lower fat, lower cholesterol alternative to beef that has a satisfying, slightly sweet taste.

Go Meatless

The grill isn't just for meat. If veggie burgers are your thing, you can find plenty of delicious cholesterol-friendly meat alternatives that are great for grilling. Or think beyond the burger and put a grilled portobello on a bun. Grill up veggie skewers, fish, fruit...even whole-wheat pizza.

Plan Ahead

You can enhance the flavor and texture of leaner cuts of meat by prepping it ahead of time. Herb-rubs, low-sodium marinades and brines prepared and applied before grilling can take the place of high-fat spreads and sauces and add an extra flavor punch. Try a delicious onion and orange or roasted garlic marinade and you can skip the mayo.

Get Creative With Toppings

Spicy mustard, salsas, guacamole and relishes make for heart-healthy toppings. Grilled onions and mushrooms add flavor and juiciness to burgers. Load up on tomato slices and lettuce for extra veggies. Instead of full-fat cheese slices, try topping your burgers with reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles.

Go Whole-Grain

Buy whole-grain buns for a little extra fiber, an important cholesterol-lowering nutrient. Or, skip the bun entirely by using lettuce and make room in your belly for other carb dishes, such as potato salad.

Add Heart-Healthy Appetizers and Sides

Use appetizers and sides to bump up your (and your guests') veggie intake. Veggies and dip are always a hit, especially when you take a dip out of low-fat plain Greek yogurt. Get creative with veggies on the grill, too. Plus a fresh salad is always a welcome addition to the barbecue table.

Don't forget that food is only one part of a barbecue. Spending time with good friends helps relieve stress, which can also be helpful in preventing heart disease.

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  1. American Heart Association. Cooking to lower cholesterol. Updated April 30, 2017.