Everyone loves an egg nog and sweets at the holidays. But he American Heart Association says fat and sugar calories are often the unwanted guests and the table.
There are simple ways to cut back on salt and sugar at the holidays, according to the AHA, which has released its Holiday Healthy Eating Guide.
Stick close to your regular health regimen:
◘ The AHA guide suggests making at least half your servings whole-grain foods.
◘ Eat a variety of colors and types of fruits and vegetables.
◘ Use fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
◘ Eat Lean meats, poultry and seafood.
◘ Use oil instead of butter.
◘ Use nuts, seeds and legumes.
◘ Cut back as much as possible on sweets and added sugars.
◘ Avoid stress.
Avoiding stress is a key to keeping your heart healthy at holiday time, and taking time for yourself is an important factor. Making time to complete holiday tasks can eliminate stress, even if it means waking up a little earlier, the AHA suggests.
Emotional stress and overindulgence can contribute to existing to post-holiday heart attack in those who are in risk categories, Dr. Robert Kloner told WebMD.com. He said colder temperatures, age and smoking play a role in your chances for having a post-holiday heart attack.
But for those not in risk categories, it's smart to play it safe anyway, according to the AHA.
The group says it's important to cut back on sodium, which can be an extremely pervasive ingredient at the holidays. The recommended allowance is two-thirds of a tablespoon.
While keeping tradition alive, those baking and cooking can make healthy substitutions on ingredients in their recipes. For example, the AHA suggests using applesauce instead of butter, skim milk instead of heavy cream and dried cherries instead of chocolate chips.
Bake, grill or steam foods instead of frying. By baking and grilling, chefs can eliminate the extra fats typically used in cooking.
In drinks, substitute alcohol for club soda and use spices for flavor instead of sugar. Alcohol and sugar are the holiday enemies, causing extra calories that can be avoided.
One of the most important aspects of keeping your heart healthy at the holidays is to stay active, and the AHA suggests in colder regions to go sledding, go ice skating, go for a walk or go indoors to play basketball.
Remember to use layers when participating in sports outdoors in colder weather and cover extremities. And remember to stay hydrated.