Turkey – Turkey is an excellent source of protein. It also has beneficial vitamins and minerals including selenium, niacin, Vitamin B6, phosphorus, and zinc. Make sure you don’t deep-fry the turkey, and skip the skin.
Cranberries – Cranberries are full of Vitamin C and have fiber as well. Additionally, they have substances in them that can prevent urinary tract infections. Since they are tart, try to limit the amount of sugar you add to them; replace some of the sugar in your cranberry sauce with fruit juice (like orange) or a sugar substitute.
Pomegranates – Pomegranates are full of antioxidants, which fight disease-causing oxidants in your body. Read here for more on the health benefits of pomegranates.
Brussels Sprouts – Brussels sprouts have cancer-fighting properties, and they’re full of fiber, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, folate, and manganese. They also provide anti-inflammatory benefits.
Pumpkins – Pumpkins are a great source of Vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant. Pumpkins are also packed with fiber and potassium. See this post about pumpkins. Don’t forget about the seeds of the pumpkin, which have fiber, protein, healthy fats, and iron, among other minerals.
Sweet potatoes – Sweet potatoes offer fiber, potassium, and Vitamins A & C. However, try to avoid the unhealthy sweet potato casserole, as it is usually full of butter, cream, and a lot of sugar. If you really love it, eat a small portion or try this recipe.
Squash – There are many different types of squash. Most varieties are high in vitamins and minerals including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, folate, potassium, manganese, and magnesium. Without added fats or salt, squash is low in calories and sodium.
Apples – Apples are full of fiber and vitamins (including Vitamin C) & minerals. One medium apple is around 100 calories and provides almost 1/5th of your daily fiber needs. The soluble fiber in apples can help lower cholesterol, but don’t forget to eat the peel.
Pecans – Packed with fiber, protein, Vitamin E, and magnesium, pecans are a good source of healthy fats. Control your portion size because all nuts are calorie-dense, meaning they have a lot of calories in a small portion.
Spices – Spices commonly used in holiday cooking are cinnamon, nutmeg, and sage. Spices can add flavor to your meals with little to no calories or salt. They also have antioxidant properties. Cinnamon can help those with type 2 diabetes lower their blood sugar and LDL (bad) cholesterol, and it can also suppress your appetite. There are antibacterial substances in nutmeg, and sage can help reduce your risk for heart disease by potentially lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
Don’t forget to stay healthy throughout the holidays…