Bowl of freshly cut tropical fruits

The article “5 Food Swaps for Healthier Holiday” first appeared in Caring Magazine, issue 145, nov/dec 2016.

1. Use Olive Oil Instead of Butter

Pouring olive oul into a heated pan

Beyond the flavourful taste, olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat (good fats that can help to lower LDL cholesterol). It contains zero trans (bad) fat and free of cholesterol, sugar, salt and gluten, making it a better alternative than butter for the heart. Studies found that dunking your bread in olive oil could cut your heart attack risk in just six weeks.

Related: The Oily Truth

2. Choose Salsa Over Cheese Dip

Chips and salsa

Ready to dip those chips? You can still sauce things up without gaining that extra pound by choosing fresh salsa over cheese dip. Get creative and make your own chunky salsa with some tomatoes, onion, chilli and fresh herbs. This is an easy way to increase your vegetable intake and save you over a hundred calories.

Related: How Dangerous Are My Potato Chips?

3. Opt for Mushroom Sauce, not Canned Gravy

Chicken with mushroom sauce

Canned gravy is high in sodium and it can cause more harm to your health than good when consumed excessively. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, excess sodium can increase your blood volume and with it, the strain on your heart and blood vessels. Mushrooms, on the other hand, are a good source of vitamin D and B which help increase your metabolism. Try to make a mushroom sauce by sautéing diced mushrooms and add about 1 cup of no-added-salt chicken stock with a tablespoon of sour cream. This adds creaminess and is much lower in calories compared to the regular gravy.

Related: Mushrooms! Mushrooms!

4. Swap the Pops for the Water Drops

Fruit infused water

Infused water is the perfect substitute for sugary drinks such as cordials, sweetened ice teas, soft drinks and fruit juices. All you need to do is toss in some sliced fruits or vegetables into a glass pitcher with some ice and enjoy.

Related: How To Order Healthier Drinks

5. Popcorn for Potato Chips

Homemade popcorn

If you could not decide whether to get that popcorn or chips, our advice is to grab that popcorn. However, the type of popcorn you choose does make a big difference. Skip the movie theatre buttery popcorn and opt for plain air-popped. Inexpensive and filling, it provides a healthier alternative.

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