The Health Benefits of 4 Favorite Holiday Treats
During the holidays we are often surrounded by family, food, and fun. Some of our fondest memories of the holidays revolve around familiar foods and treats. For myself, I am always looking forward to my Grandma’s special potatoes, sprinkled with paprika. Holiday treats often get a bad rap for being unhealthy and high in calories, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Would you believe some of your favorite holiday treats may have some surprising health benefits? You won’t have to think twice when enjoying these delightful disease-fighting foods!
• Hot Cocoa: Did you know this warm, chocolaty treat can help prevent chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease? Cocoa is rich in flavonoids, an antioxidant that helps with inflammation and protection of cells. Research shows it may help with blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Make your own disease fighting cup at home with skim milk and dark chocolate cocoa.
• Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Those creamy spuds may help to improve blood pressure and decrease the risk of colon and rectal cancers. Garlic produces a chemical called allicin, which gives garlic its lovely odor and health benefits. Who knew that garlic smell was helping to prevent certain cancers?
• Pumpkin Pie: Pumpkin itself is a nutrient-dense food. Pumpkin boasts the benefits of vitamin A and fiber. Vitamin A helps with vision, bone growth and keeps your immune system healthy. Fiber can help to keep your bowels regular and improve cholesterol levels. Indulge mindfully, pumpkin pie often has added sugar, skimp on the crust and you’ll save some calories.
• Wine: Polyphenols are antioxidants present in red wine, that studies show improve heart health. Specifically, resveratrol may reduce LDL cholesterol and prevent damage to blood cells. Please drink safely. The American Heart Association recommends if you drink, limit to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.
This holiday season remembers all the wonderful things food can do for us. Remember to practice moderation and balance when enjoying these tasty treats.
Wishing you a wonderful and healthful holiday season!
Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE is a clinical dietitian at CHI Health, working in Oncology and Functional nutrition. Ellen helps patients improve nutrition habits during cancer treatment and beyond. She is a group fitness instructor at the CHI Health Lakeside Wellness Center and enjoys helping people of all fitness abilities be active. Ellen is passionate about helping patients improve their lives through nutrition, activity and stress management.