While the North Pole’s most famous resident may work hard to keep up his jolly weight, with a steady intake of full-fat milk and cookies, many Americans go into the holiday season dreading the inevitable weight gain and planning their return to the gym in January.
And even though research conducted by Cornell University has shown that the weight gain isn’t as dramatic as people may fear – the average American puts on 1.3 pounds from October through New Year’s – they also found that it may take as long as five months to loose that same amount.
Holiday Flavors can be Healthy!
Many of the great tastes that we associate with holiday treats have significant health benefits. Cut back on the breads, butter, cream, and sugar, and focus on these ingredients for a tasty and healthy holiday.
- Cinnamon. Of the most commonly used herbs and spices, cinnamon ranks first in antioxidant power. It’s also known to be anti-inflammatory, helps protect against diabetes, and even helps ward off certain cancers. So go ahead and drop a cinnamon stick in your hot apple cider, or whip up a batch of low fat cinnamon rolls, and enjoy the immune-system boosting power of this favorite spice.
- Nutmeg. Since the days of ancient Greece, nutmeg has been used as to improve brain function and relieve fatigue. We now know it promotes healthy neural pathways, and has even been shown to help those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It also works to detoxify your body by boosting liver and kidney health, and even encourages healthy gums. Include it in a healthy pumpkin pie, and enjoy all of its benefits, along with those of our favorite orange gourd.
- Ginger. Like its nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger is a known anti-inflammatory, and also thought to help promote healthy brain function and fend off age-related brain issues, like Alzheimer’s disease. This superfood relieves nausea, chronic indigestion, and even menstrual pain. Gingerbread cookies are a seasonal favorite, and this healthy recipe means you can enjoy them guilt-free.
- Chocolate. Long known as an excellent source of anti-oxidants, the cocoa in dark chocolate is also loaded with fiber and minerals, including iron, magnesium, and potassium. And cocoa lowers LDL cholesterol, which means it helps reduce risk factors for heart disease. It may even help improve blood flow to the brain! While all these benefits are found primarily in dark chocolate, even it’s fatty friend, milk chocolate, has some positive power (in moderation).
- Peppermint. A hybrid of watermint and spearmint, indigenous to Europe and the Middle East, and now cultivated across much of the world, peppermint is widely used to treat indigestion, anxiety and depression, and the common cold. It helps with the pain and bloating of irritable bowl syndrome, and cancer patients have found that peppermint helps calm nausea from chemotherapy. Whether you enjoy it in tea, cookies, or homemade candy canes, peppermint is another holiday treat with healthy benefits.
Nobody wants to put on extra weight during the holidays. But you don’t have to miss out on the flavors of the season. Leave the excess sugar and butter-filled cookies for the big guy in red, and give your health a boost, while still enjoying your favorite treats.