The holidays are a time of year for fun, friendship and, perhaps most of all – great food! You have probably resigned yourself to the fact that this festive season means you will be packing on a few pounds as you enjoy the spread at parties and get-togethers. Believe it or not, however, some favorite holiday foods can actually be quite good for you. By eating more of these foods, and less of the many high-calorie, low-nutrition options so often served at this time of year, you might be surprised just how much of a head start you can give yourself on your next New Year’s resolution to get in shape.
Holiday Food Favorites: # 1: Pumpkin
Pumpkin pie may be the most common means of serving pumpkin during the holidays, but it is far from the only one. Pumpkin is packed with nutrients like iron, potassium and vitamin A, as well as fiber, but it is still fairly low in calories. If you do decide to enjoy it in a pie this year, just make sure you do not add too much sugar, and that you make a pie crust without high-fat shortening.
Holiday Food Favorites # 2: Cranberries
Cranberries are a great source of vitamin C, manganese and fiber. In addition, they have been shown to reduce the risk of developing urinary tract infections. Many brands of store-bought cranberry sauce contain quite a bit of added sugar; making your own allows you to only add the amount you actually want.
Holiday Food Favorites # 3: Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, potassium, and vitamin C, as well as fiber. If you like eating the skin of the sweet potato, you will add even more of a fiber boost to your diet. Of course, try to avoid the heaps of butter, sugar, and marshmallows so often served with sweet potatoes to ensure you do not drown out the dish’s health benefits.
Holiday Food Favorites # 4: Turkey
Few holiday spreads are complete without a roast turkey. Fortunately, turkey is one of the leanest meats you can enjoy, and it is a fantastic source of protein. It also provides plenty of iron, selenium, phosphorous, zinc and most of the B vitamins. Of course, although deep fried turkeys are becoming more common, the deep frying process will add a great deal of unhealthy fat to your meal. Instead, for a healthier meal, stick with traditional roasted options prepared on a rack that allows any excess grease to drain off.
Holiday Food Favorites # 5: Cinnamon
Many different holiday dishes and beverages include cinnamon, which is good news if you are a cinnamon lover. Even better news: cinnamon is one of the most antioxidant-rich spices in existence. In addition, cinnamon’s flavor can help reduce the amount of sugar and other sweeteners a dish requires, lowering its calorie count.
Holiday Food Favorites # 6: Nutmeg
Nutmeg includes certain unique antioxidants that are thought to help minimize signs of aging. In addition, some studies have found evidence that nutmeg may help protect the health of your teeth.
Holiday Food Favorites # 7: Dark Chocolate
Chocolate frequently carries a bad reputation in the health community due to its high sugar, fat and calorie content. However, eating dark chocolate in moderation can provide you with lots of health-protecting antioxidants. In addition, moderate amounts of dark chocolate may help lower blood pressure.
Holiday Food Favorites # 8: Nuts
Whether as a snack by themselves or as an ingredient in other dishes, nuts of all kinds are everywhere during the holidays. Many different nuts are packed with unsaturated fats, which are good for your circulatory and other systems; they also include a wide array of minerals, along with some fiber. Almonds and walnuts are two of the most nutrient-rich nuts you can choose.
American Diabetes Association: “Holiday Food Health Benefits”
WebMD: “Health Benefits of Holiday Foods”
Livestrong: “Hidden Health Benefits of 14 Holiday Superfoods”
HealthCastle: “Top 8 Healthy Holiday Foods”
Prevention: “Naughty But Nice: Surprising Benefits from Classic Holiday Foods”
Food Network: “The Health Benefits of Holiday Spices and Herbs”
Related Articles By Cathe: