Heart and Vascular Health 4 Heart-Healthy Holiday Beverages to Enjoy By Heart and Vascular Institute, December 23, 2013 We all look forward to the holiday season’s delicious treat and drinks, but the extra calories can put a damper on the festive food and drinks. Creating substitutions and new choices to enjoy your favorite winter beverages will ensure you stay heart healthy and look good in your pictures with family and friends. Eggnog Mix it up. Fill your glass with half- to three-quarter-parts of low-fat or skim milk and one part eggnog. You’ll still get the flavor without all the calories. Act like a kid. Take out the alcohol. This simple step will reduce the caloric content. Cut the fluff. Pass on that big dollop of whipped cream to avoid the extra sugar and saturated fat. Find an alternative in its many low-fat or non-dairy versions. Hot Chocolate Skip the heavy stuff. If you order hot chocolate at a restaurant or coffee shop, ask that it be made with low-fat or skim milk, and without the whipped cream. To make instant hot chocolate at home, look for product packets marked “low-fat/fat-free” or “low-sugar/sugar-free.” Be sure to add the mix to low-fat milk, skim milk or hot water. Go easy on the toppings. Use five to eight mini-marshmallows instead of large ones. If using whipped cream, look for low-fat versions and stick to less than one tablespoon. If you have hot chocolate regularly, try to limit the toppings to “once in a while treats” since they can pack a lot of calories and added sugars. Apple Cider Read the labels. When buying cider at the store, check its added sugar content. Many products contain added sugars, which can increase your calorie intake and cause weight gain. Choose low-sugar and sugar-free options. Do it yourself. When making cider at home, use low-sugar apple juice and a variety of spices (like cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg and whole cranberries). You’ll keep the flavor while cutting calories. Cocktails and Other Alcoholic Beverages Enjoy cocktails. Serve non-alcoholic versions of your favorite cocktails to lower the calories. Be sure to check the nutrition label, because sometimes products that are alcohol-free have more added sugar. Break it up. To reduce the amount of calorie-laden drinks you consume during a holiday gathering, drink a glass of water or sparkling water between each beverage. This will help fill your stomach, leaving less room to overindulge.