One of the most popular things about the holidays? The FOOD!!! However, most holiday food selections wouldn’t make a doctors “Healthiest Foods Ever” listing. That said, there are a number of foods that are not only delicious holiday delights, but are also surprisingly healthy.
Turkey is a dynamite healthy protein source — unless it’s deep fried and slathered with gravy. Sarah Krieger, RD, National Spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, points out that a serving of turkey provides almost half of the recommended daily allowance of folic acid and is a good source of vitamin B, zinc, and potassium. These nutrients have been found to keep blood cholesterol down, protect against cancer and heart disease, and boost the immune system (not bad for an old bird). A normal portion size is usually 3 to 4 ounces — and if you stick to white meat and peel the skin off, you’ll literally save hundreds of calories at a holday table. Fortunately, turkey is one of those dieter’s dream foods that will fill you up when you eat just a little.
2. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are among the healthiest vegetables around — so long as they don’t get doused with butter, marshmallows, or some other high-calorie holiday sabotage. If roasted — which keeps the flavor very intense without adding fat — sweet potatoes burst with fiber, vitamin A, potassium, and phytochemicals, which stave off aging, cancer, and arthritis. Plus, they’re very filling, so you don’t have to overload your plate with them.
As millions of us reach for pretty-in-pink cranberry sauce to garnish our turkey and stuffing, few realize we’re getting much more than a sweet-tasting accoutrement. Krieger points out that cranberries are loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants and their fiber content helps to lower “bad” cholesterol levels. However, because these beautiful berries are naturally low in sugar, many recipes call for large doses of added sweetener. Steer clear of all that sugar and, instead, try adding a sugar substitute like Splenda to keep this side dish healthy, suggests Krieger.