OK, let's be honest. Eating is one of the best things about the holidays...how many of your childhood Christmas memories revolve around food?
But everything delicious doesn't have to be naughty. This list of healthy holiday foods came across my desk at the radio station, from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
It piqued my interest because although I know I'll enjoy some treats, I don't plan to abandon my healthy lifestyle this Christmas.
If you feel the same way, or you have a family member who needs to be careful about their diet for health reasons, check these suggestions out.
Stacy Kennedy is a nutritionist with the Institute. She tells us, "When party planning during the holidays, it’s important to have variety. Many of the foods we enjoy around the holidays are not only delicious to eat, but they may also contain cancer-fighting nutrients.”
Kennedy says it's easy to include them in any menu when you know what to look for.
Here's her list:
Hummus is a great substitute for fat and calorie laden dips, and Kennedy says this recipe calls for pine nuts, which are rich in protein, zinc, copper and manganese...all of which are important for a healthy immune system. She adds that legumes, like chickpeas, are a great source of protein and dietary fiber, which can help reduce the risk of cancer and help lower cholesterol.
Here's a good reason to dust off the family nutcracker--The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute article tells us:
Recent research finds that walnuts may help prevent kidney and colon cancers. In addition, the study suggests that walnuts are a rich source of antioxidants that may help protect cells from oxidative damage. Walnuts contain essential fatty acids, or the so-called “good fats,” which are known to help reduce blood pressure and boost the immune system.Mangoes
Some good news about this tropical treat:
"Mangoes are naturally sweet and rich in a variety of antioxidants. One of them, lupeol, is thought to rid the body of harmful molecules known as free radicals, which can damage a cell's DNA, triggering some forms of cancer and other diseases. Studies have indicated that mango pulp may lower the risk of prostate cancer, inflammation, arthritis, and diabetes."Kennedy calls this recipe "a colorful and refreshing mousse recipe will delight dinner guests."
At Thanksgiving, my daughter-in-law mixed pomegranate seeds with apple slices for a light, refreshing fruit salad. I didn't realize just how good it was for me!
According to the Dana-Farber Institute, "Research suggests that drinking pomegranate juice may be a delicious way to help prevent prostate cancer, as well as prevent the metastasis and spread of prostate cancer cells."
They say this good-for-you Apple and Pomegranate Crisp dessert "is layered with flavonoids, vitamin C, and other antioxidants."
Nutritionist Stacy Kennedy tells us, "Pumpkin is...one of the tastiest ways to enhance the body’s own natural cancer-fighting ability."
She says pumpkins are packed with nutrients called carotenoids, which have been linked to the prevention of colon, prostate, breast, and lung cancer. It’s actually the bright orange color that makes pumpkin rich in nutrients.
One of my favorite healthy pumpkin recipes is this one for ginger-spiced muffins...I've made it many times and love it!
Squash for the holidays? Sure...in this appetizer, Winter Squash Crostini. According to the article, "It’s not only delicious but also a good source of carotenoids. They act to clean out the dangerous free radicals that enter your body from stress or the environment."
Kennedy has some other suggestions to make the holidays healthy:
- in dips, try substituting sour cream with low-fat plain Greek yogurt
- go raw with crudites
- add as many colorful foods as possible
- get plenty of exercise, and
- remember, it's a time for celebration, so it's OK to indulge a little!
Do you have any favorite ways that you incorporate these foods into your diet? Let me know in my comments section!
**Thanks to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for supplying the information for this post.**