Lowering Cholesterol: Tips for Making Healthy Dips

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adam booth photography, istockphoto

If you’re needing to bring something to your next potluck or party, dips are a crowd favorite. They are inexpensive and quick to create - and are often the first dish to disappear wherever you set them. Some dips, however, can be off-limits if you are following a diet to keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels healthy. For instance, some of the more popular dips - such as creamy and cheesy dips - taste delicious, but they also contain a high amount of saturated fat and calories.

Some dips may also contain hidden sugar. These tips and recipes will help you to create healthy dips that will not introduce a lot of fat and calories to your cholesterol-lowering diet.

Use Your Favorite Beans

Beans are very versatile and can be combined with practically anything - whether you are serving it with veggies or low-fat pita chips. Not only are they low in saturated fat and high in protein, beans are packed with fiber - an ingredient that can help keep your cholesterol levels healthy.

Black beans, kidney beans, navy beans - you can serve them whole or put them in a blender to turn them into a creamy mixture. Their taste is not very strong, so it is often tempting to add something to enhance their flavor. If you do this, adding a squirt of lemon juice or spices is a cholesterol-friendly way of livening up your bean dips.  

Add Your Favorite Veggies to Your Dip

Vegetable dips are also a great hit at parties.

Although any type of vegetable is ideal to include in a dip, many of these dips are made from full-fat milk and heavy creams that can introduce a high amount of saturated fat into the dip. Luckily, there are ways to enjoy the creaminess of a vegetable dip without significantly increasing the fat content.

You can add a low-fat variety of your favorite dairy product - such as sour cream or cream cheese - to your dip. Additionally, you can also mix in plain, low-fat Greek yogurt to give your dip more creaminess - without adding a lot of saturated fat.

Tried-and-True Salsa

When you think of salsa, you may only think of a chopped tomato and onion combination. However, there are many other ways you can prepare salsa - and almost all of these preparation methods can make cholesterol-friendly dips that are chock-full of nutrients. To mix it up, feel free to experiment with any combination of fruit and vegetables:

  • Chop and combine one tomato, one red onion, a couple of ears of corn, and one or two cloves of garlic into a bowl with the juice of half of a lime. What to add some protein to your dip? Toss in a handful of black beans.
  • If you are in the mood for something sweet, chop and combine one grapefruit, one kiwi, one orange, cilantro, one tomato and one green pepper to make a sweeter salsa (without the added sugar).
  • To keep it traditional, chop and combine one white onion, three or four tomatoes, cilantro, a couple of garlic cloves, and the juice of one lime. If you need to spice it up a little, sprinkle in some pepper.

You can use your favorite salsa mixtures to dip your other vegetables or whole grains in. Just be sure to avoid potato chips, since these are laden with fat, salt and calories.

Consider Using Hummus

Although commonly noted in Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern cuisine, hummus has also gained popularity in the United States as a cholesterol-friendly dip. These creamy dips are made primarily from chickpeas - a high-fiber legume that can also be added to many side dishes and entrees. This dip can be spread onto whole-grain crackers or can be used to dip your veggies or whole-grain pita bread.

You can modify the taste of hummus by adding other low-fat ingredients, such as lemon, red pepper, garlic, or various spices. .And if you don't feel like making your own, there are plenty of brands of pre-packaged hummus available in the grocery store. If you purchase it at the store, just make sure that you check your nutritional labels for hidden saturated fat and sugar.

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