It’s the holiday season and there’s no shortage of feasts filled with favorite foods and maybe some overindulgence. But you might be surprised to know that some of the season’s most popular indulgences actually have some nutritious value—but there’s a catch. Consumer Reports reveals the traditional holiday treats with hidden benefits.
As long as you moderate your intake—that’s the catch—you can feel okay about eating some of these nutrient-packed foods.
Chestnuts may not live up to their “nut” brethren when it comes to protein, but these holiday favorites are rich in fiber, magnesium, folate, vitamin C, and potassium. If you’re not a fan, go for the other nuts, also full of nutritional value, but keep in mind that a half-cup of almonds has about 400 calories compared with just 175 for the same amount of chestnuts.
And if Jack Frost is nipping at your nose, by all means enjoy a hot cup of cocoa. The key antioxidant—flavanols—is found in cacao beans used to make chocolate. They help reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol. But skip the instant mixes and make your own, using unsweetened cocoa or even melted chocolate. And add some low-fat milk for a calcium boost.
More often than not, packaged foods and mixes have added ingredients that aren’t good for you, like added sugars and sodium, so it’s usually best to make fresh versions.
In their natural state, pumpkin and sweet potatoes are nutritional powerhouses full of vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. But when these fantastic foods become pie, they lose some of their superpowers.
And eggnog? Well, maybe it’s good we enjoy this treat only once a year. Made with heavy cream and milk, it’s full of saturated fat and sugar. And while its Caribbean counterpart, coquito, is made with coconut milk, it too is high in saturated fat and sugar. Enjoy only a small serving, and savor the taste of the holiday. Sprinkle with pistachios and nutmeg for added nutrients.
And if you do enjoy a bit too much over the holidays, Consumer Reports says don’t beat yourself up. The new year can be a nice reset if you add fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet.