Holiday Superfoods Worth Celebrating

Do you end up feeling like a stuffed turkey after gorging on so many holiday delights?

The good news is that many traditional holiday foods are actually quite healthy—it’s all about how you prepare them.  Take these ten festive favorites as healthful examples, and be sure to include them in your holiday feast…

1. Pomegranates

There’s almost nothing healthier over the holidays than a big, gorgeous, juicy pomegranate. The plump, red fruit is not only rich in disease fighting antioxidants; it’s super easy to splash into the holiday punchbowl, or indulge in fresh fruit desserts or by tossing the seeds over steamed veggies or a nutritious salad.

2. Cocoa

Talk about an early holiday treat for chocolate lovers! The dark variety of this sweet spice can be blended into a warming mug or added to bake goods in small doses to ward off the dangers of stroke or coronary heart disease.

3. Fresh Green Beans

Now let’s get this straight, I’m not condoning green bean casserole as a healthy dish by any means. However, the fresh beans that make up the base of this creamy casserole are a rich source of vitamins A, C, and K, manganese, dietary fiber, potassium, folate, and iron if you steam them lightly and add a splash of olive oil and natural spices.

4. Sweet Potatoes

The potato vs. patato debate certainly matters when we’re talking sweet potatoes vs. white potatoes. The sweet variety is rich sources of fiber, vitamin A, and potassium, which the white variety simply lacks. Just don’t make the mistake of loading them with butter, cream, and marshmallows and sabotaging all that good stuff.

5. Red Wine

I’ll take yet another reason to cheers red wine for it’s heart-healthy, antioxidant prowess. Not only does the red vintage boast disease-blasting benefits; it’s low in calories compared to other forms of holiday cheer at approximately 75 calories per 4-ounce glass.

6. Pumpkin

Christmas tidings wouldn’t quite be the same without a thick slice of pumpkin pie to end your holiday meal. And considering that pumpkin acts as a heart-healthy form of low fat, low calorie, fiber and vitamin A, using it in baked goods as a healthier substitute for butter or margarine should be counted amongst your holiday blessings.

7. Turkey

Not only does the white portion of your favorite holiday bird pack plenty of low fat protein—it packs a healthy dose of folic acid, vitamin B, zinc, and potassium, which all work to lower blood cholesterol down, and ward off cancer and heart disease. Just be sure to leave the gravy in the gravy boat.

8. Nutmeg

Many of us love a whiff of nutty, earthy, sweet nutmeg in our Christmas baking. This fragrant spice can fill your home instantly with the aroma of the holidays and your eggnog bowl and casseroles with a little digestion-relief. It’s true; nutmeg relieves diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and gas pain.

9. Cinnamon

There are so many healthy reasons to use cinnamon in your morning oats, hot beverages, baking, and vegetable side dishes. Among them, cinnamon lowers bad cholesterol and balances insulin levels so you can resist the urge to binge on Christmas cookies.

10. Cranberries

The medicinal benefits of cranberries were celebrated by our Native American ancestors, who used this tangy berry to treat all sorts of bacterial infections (i.e., UTIs). So as you incorporate these tart, blasts of flavor into salads, dressing, baked goods, and holiday cocktails, don’t forget that they deliver the miracle of antioxidants in compact fiber-rich, low-calorie form.