Ways to Fit Spinach into Your Cholesterol-Friendly Meals

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Spinach is a very versatile vegetable and can be included in practically every meal you make - whether you are making a quick salad or adding it to a large meal. Spinach contains a wide range of nutrients - including heart-healthy ingredients such as fiber and phytosterols. Spinach is also fat-free, making it a good go-to food if you are looking for items to include in your cholesterol-lowering diet.

This article will show you some ways you can incorporate this delicious veggie into your healthy meals.

Appetizers and Snacks

If you go to any party, spinach dip is often a crowd pleaser. And it’s easy to make this favorite dip healthy. You can swap out your fattier sour cream for a low-fat version of sour cream or use low-fat plain Greek yogurt instead. If you want to cut out even more fat and calories - use hummus as your base instead of a cream. And remember - spices are your friends, since they add negligible calories but can pack on the flavor. Common flavorings include chives, garlic, rosemary, and pepper. You should limit the amount of salt that you add to your dips, since this can adversely affect your heart health if you consume too much of it.

Spinach can also be easily inserted into a variety of other finger foods, adding a little nutrition to your plate. Despite the cholesterol-friendly properties that spinach possesses, it is easy to ruin this by adding the wrong ingredients to your appetizers.

To make your appetizers cholesterol-friendly, make sure that you are including ingredients that are high in fiber and protein, and low in saturated fat and refined sugars. When in doubt, always check your nutritional labels.

When consuming your spinach appetizers, you should make sure that you do not go overboard, since sometimes appetizers can pack on the calories - especially if you have large a meal to consume afterwards.

Soups and Salads

Spinach can pack a nutritious, low-fat punch when it comes to adding them to soups and salads. For salads, you can mix in spinach with other leafy greens, such as lettuce or kale - or just use spinach leaves alone to create your salad. Spinach can be used with many types of soups, but you may need a lot of spinach leaves if you are using fresh spinach, as they tend to wilt under heat.

When making your soups and salads, you should watch what you add in order to reduce your saturated fat intake. Creams and cheeses should be minimized, or a low-fat version should be used in order to reduce the amount of fat in the dish. If you are including pork or beef in your soup or salad, you can substitute these with a leaner protein - such as tofu, fish, or poultry. Alternatively, you can also remove the extra fat from the meat pieces before cooking.

Spinach for Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not include this leafy green in your breakfast plans? Spinach can also be included in a variety of breakfast foods, including:

  • Adding some chopped spinach - along with other veggies - in a healthy omelette. 
  • Tossing in a handful of these leafy greens into your favorite smoothie.
  • Are you baking breakfast muffins or breads? Mix in some finely-chopped spinach into the batter. 

Spinach can be added to many breakfasts - and you won't be able to taste the spinach with the other healthy ingredients added.  When preparing these foods, you should make sure that you are pairing your spinach with other ingredients that are low in saturated fat and calories - such as other veggies, fruit, whole grains, and lean proteins. Although it's tempting to add syrups or jellies to some of these foods, you should limit these since they can add sugar - and calories - to your breakfast. 

Entrees with Spinach

Spinach is such a flexible food that you can include it in a variety of entrees. Spinach can be served as part of the entree or be used to make a side dish. You can use fresh spinach, but sauteing, baking and steaming spinach are also healthy ways to prepare spinach.

If you decide to saute your spinach, you should make sure that you are using a small amount of oil high in unsaturated fat - such as olive oil or canola oil - instead of using butter. This will help to reduce your saturated fat intake. Additionally, you should avoid entrees that are fried since this could introduce unhealthy trans fats into your meal.

Gravies, cream-based sauces, sweet sauces, and syrups should also be limited if you are watching your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. If your meal calls for them, place them on the side - instead of directly on your entree - to reduce your fat and calorie intake.

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