Tips for Enjoying Spanish Cuisine on a Lipid-Lowering Diet

Spanish Cooking

The foods found in Spanish cuisine arise from the influences of different Spanish regions, including Murcia, Catalonia, and Madrid. High-fiber grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes, and fish high in omega-3 fats are just a few of the many heart-healthy foods found in Spanish cuisine. Unfortunately, there are some foods used in Spanish cooking you should limit – or avoid altogether – if you are watching your cholesterol and triglycerides.

These tips will show you how you can enjoy delicious Spanish cooking if you are following a diet to lower your lipids.

Soups and Stews

Soups and stews are very popular in Spanish cuisine and include many different combinations of vegetables, lean meats, herbs – and sometimes – even fruit. Garlic is commonly added to many types of soups, as well as sides and entrees. Legumes are also used in Spanish soups and stews, making your soup or stew filling enough to serve as the main course. You should be careful what you add to these first courses since some ingredients can add fat and calories to your meal. Heavy creams are sometimes added to make the soup or stew thicker, so these should be limited if you are watching your lipids – since this can heap on calories and saturated fat to the dish. For an alternative, you can use a low-fat cream, low-fat plain Greek yogurt, or pureed chickpeas to get a similar effect – without the added calories.


Spanish-inspired salads are also chock-full of healthy ingredients. Delicious veggies, such as varieties of peppers, artichokes, eggplant, tomatoes, leafy greens and onions are commonly included. It also isn’t uncommon to see sweet fruits and nuts, such as almonds, sliced into the salad. Some salads may include cheese, which can add extra calories if used in excess.

You can include a low-fat version of your favorite cheese if needed. Some dressings may contain cream, which is another potential source of saturated fat and calories.  You can use a low-fat salad dressing on the side, or forgo it altogether – with the combination of ingredients used in many of these salads, there is usually enough flavor in the salad without dressing.


Spanish sides usually consist of legumes and vegetables, such as eggplant, peppers, or leafy greens. These vegetables are usually lightly sauteed in a small amount of olive oil or served fresh – both of which are healthy preparation methods. Additionally, herbs and spices – including paprika, oregano, rosemary, and garlic – are also liberally added. Sometimes, butter and lard may be used during the preparation of the side dish, which can add calories to the dish. Additionally, some sides may have a mayonnaise-based garnishment added to them, which should be minimized or avoided if you are watching your heart health.

Main Course

Spanish-inspired entrees are quite varied and can accommodate any type of diet – whether you are looking to include some type of filling protein or a light vegetarian dish. Common proteins found in Spanish cuisine include seafood, chicken, pork, and beef. Heart-healthy fish – such as salmon, anchovy, and tuna – are chock-full of omega-3 fats and are also commonly prepared in this cuisine. Pork and beef may contain more saturated fat compared to other protein options, which can increase the calories of your dish. If these are to be included, you should make sure to remove any fatty pieces from your cut of meat before serving. Foods are typically grilled, stewed, or roasted – all of which are good preparation methods if you are watching your lipid levels. However, some foods may be deep-fried, so if you are watching your lipid levels, you should avoid entrees containing fried foods.  

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