Sticking with a heart smart diet can feel more daunting than ever during the holidays. Between decadent dinners, rich desserts, and festive cocktails, the temptations are often numerous. For an older adult trying to limit their sodium intake or manage cholesterol, the season can be challenging.

If you are wondering how to make healthy choices or need ideas for heart smart appetizers, we have some options for you.

Foods That Are Good for Your Heart

Let’s start with foods that promote a healthier heart. Some of the most popular ones to look for at holiday parties include:

  • Leafy greens
  • Avocado
  • Whole grains
  • Berries
  • Fatty fish
  • Walnuts and almonds
  • Garlic
  • Tomatoes
  • Dark chocolate

By contrast, there are foods to limit or avoid completely if you are trying to protect your heart, including:

  • Red meat
  • White breads and rolls
  • Processed deli meats
  • Grocery store rotisserie chicken
  • Blended coffee drinks
  • Condiments like ketchup and barbeque sauce
  • Soda (including diet soda)

Heart-Friendly Holiday Appetizers

  • Roasted red pepper and walnut dip: This tasty appetizer can be served with vegetables, multigrain crackers, or pita chips. Besides its great taste, it’s a visually appealing addition to your holiday buffet or cocktail party.
  • Mini crab cakes with smarter tartar: Frozen crab cakes or those served in restaurants are often fried and loaded with saturated fats, which are bad for your heart. This recipe allows you to make a healthy version, including a yogurt-based tartar sauce.
  • Chilled avocado gazpacho: Another nutritious option for your holiday appetizer menu is gazpacho. You can serve it up in small glass cups or bowls with a cherry tomato and slice of cucumber on top. The pretty color of the soup makes it another festive seasonal choice.
  • Cup of berries: One easy idea is to purchase a variety of fresh berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Serve them in small, individual samples glasses. You can even add a dollop of almond milk whipped topping and a sprig of mint.
  • Roasted figs and honey: This healthy appetizer combines the delicious flavors of figs, honey, goat cheese, and hazelnuts or almonds. You can serve it with small slices of multigrain bread or on its own. Equally appealing is that this dish can be prepared and baked in just 10 minutes.

One final tip is to watch your alcohol consumption. If you do want to indulge a bit, skip the beer and sweet, fruity drinks. Instead, opt for red wine or champagne. Clear liquors like gin and rum are other good choices. Just be mindful not to mix them with soda and other sugary beverages.

Visit a Heritage Community This Holiday Season

If you or a loved one have been contemplating making a move to a senior living community, we invite you to schedule a personal tour of a Heritage community in Michigan or Indiana. The festive holiday season is a great time to plan a visit. Read “Why the Holidays Are a Good Time to Tour Assisted Living Communities?” to learn more!