10 Tips for planning a BBQ on a cholesterol lowering diet

There’s a scorching weekend coming in Ireland, and long may it last! Everyone loves the outside living and enjoying easy dinners on the BBQ. BBQ may be delicious, but it’s not the most cholesterol-friendly food! The common BBQ meal consists of lots of cholesterol filled foods such as beef ribs, sausages, rashers, colslaw and potato salad (covered in mayonnaise). And here in Ireland, opting out of a social occasion because your watching your cholesterol is simply not an option!

Here are simple tips to help you watch your cholesterol and still have fun!  These delicious but healthy options will give you all the taste and experience, with no cholesterol!

#1 Choose a lean meat

Replace ribs, steak and pork with lean meats like turkey, chicken fillets and fish which contain a whole less fat and cholesterol. Choose chicken with no skin. Fish and lean meats have significantly less saturated fat than steak and processed pork. Fish is surprisingly nice grilled on a BBQ and there are even handy little fish grill trays available in most supermarkets these days, so it’s as easy to cook fish as flipping a burger. Generally, fish are not high in saturated fat and contain omega- 3 fatty acid that keep your triglyceride levels healthy. But If you must eat a steak- why not try the red meat in bite-sized pieces with vegetables on a kebab stick.

#2 Think fresh marinades, not processed sauces

Meats are usually rubbed in sauces before grilling so try to be mindful of the fat and calorie content. Marinating your meats a few hours before the BBQ with herbs, spices and citrus juices is a good idea.

#3 Watch the carbs

If you go for the baked potato option, choose light mayonnaise, light Philadelphia, or light laughing cow cheese which contain significantly less fat and calories than other cheeses. Or choose a spicy salsa as a topping. This goes for salads also – the nutritional value of a salad disappears when they’re loaded in salad dressings and mayonnaise. Be mindful of what you are adding to your salads and try creating the flavour with herbs, spices, nuts and seeds rather than shop bought dressing.

#4 Fruity drinks and Light Beer

Can a few drinks really affect your cholesterol? Well…… it depends. Although alcohol is filtered through your liver, the same place where cholesterol is made, its effect on your heart health really depends on how often and how much you drink. I know it can be tempting to sit back with a cold cocktail or beer while the sun is out, but keep it moderate. Drink water in between your alcoholic beverages, and have one drink per hour (not fifteen).

We’re fans of dry white wine spritzers (so you’re still drinking but not as much). Spritzers are less calorific and dilute the wine into a refreshing summer drink. Use one-part wine to two-part soda of your choices such as diet coke, diet sprite or tonic water. If you want to get fancy add a drop of bitters like lime, lemon or oranges.

A few ‘cold ones’ are always present at BBQ’s, and while Beer doesn’t contain cholesterol, it does contain carbohydrates and alcohol, and these substances can cause a rise in your triglyceride levels. If you need a cold one – opt for light beer. The winner here is Bud light coming in with 110 calories with Becks and Heineken next in line.

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