The holidays are here. The season of giving, spending, celebration, and for many, the season of high calorie overeating. According to a 2016 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the average American gains about a pound between Thanksgiving and the beginning of January. Even though the weight gain isn’t as high as many might expect, the problem is most people don’t loose it after the holidays…so over the years, it all starts to add up. It’s great to be jolly for the season, but if we’re not careful, our bellies may be bowls full of jelly long after the holidays have past.
But there is good news. Not all holiday treats are unhealthy!
It’a an official superfood! They’re loaded with antioxidants, which can help protect your cells against pesky free radicals. They’re anti-inflammatory, helping reduce the impacts of arthritis and other painful conditions. And they have a full day’s worth of vitamin A, as well as significant amounts of several other vitamins, including C, B6, and manganese! So go ahead and dive into the yearly sweet potato casserole!
As we’ve discussed before, pumpkin isn’t just for jack o’ lanterns at Halloween. This winter squash, like it’s sweet potato buddy, is packed with vitamins and antioxidants. This nutrient-dense food is low in calories, while also a good source of fiber, so it helps suppress appetite. A slice of pumpkin pie is nothing to feel too guilty about.
Nothing says holidays quite like peppermint. Peppermint cookies, peppermint tea, peppermint bark, and, of course, candy canes. While it’s important to consider how much sugar is mixed in, the peppermint itself may provide several benefits. Many believe it has calming effects and is often used to relieve anxiety. It’s also a popular natural remedy for nausea, muscle pain, and indigestion. Plus, those little individually wrapped candy canes are great for sharing around the office!
Like peppermint, ginger is also synonymous with the holidays. And also like peppermint, it’s a popular natural remedy for indigestion, muscle pain, and nausea, especially morning sickness. Studies have even shown it may help lower cholesterol!
It’d be hard to make an argument for the health benefits of alcohol consumption. But if your holiday celebrations already include red wine, in moderation, you might be giving your heart a healthy little boost. Polyphenols and resveratrol in red wine are believed to help protect blood vessels in the heart, lower cholesterol, and prevent blood clots.
Would it even be the holidays without chocolate? Though it contains lots of fat and sugar, it’s also long been associated with countering stress, heart disease, and hypertension. One 2014 study found that a cocoa extract shows promise in slowing cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients. Another study found that chocolate could even lower the risk of stroke by as much as 22%.
So if you have visions of sugarplums dancing in your head, go head, have a little treat. Not all calories are bad. Besides, New Year’s is right around the corner, and you can always resolve to loose that extra holiday pound.