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What Are The Healthiest Holiday Foods?

Under: Food & Diet, Heart Health, Holidays

Making Healthy Holiday Food Choices

It’s estimated that Americans gain at least one pound, and up to five pounds of weight, between Thanksgiving and New Years’.  Repeat that for a few years and we look less and less like our high school yearbook photo.

But that doesn’t have to be the case if we learn what foods to embrace and what foods to avoid.  Here’s a list of both:

Healthy Holiday Foods


The phytochemicals that impart the red color to cranberries are powerful anti-aging antioxidants. They also reduce the ability of bacteria to stick to our cells thereby reducing the risk of urinary infections.


cranberry holiday food

Apples and Applesauce

Contain heart-healthy fiber and compounds like quercetin and ellagic acid that are powerful antioxidants and protect against cardiovascular disease and inflammation which is involved in almost all chronic disease.

Dark Chocolate

Seventy percent or more cocoa content contains the most flavanols — helpful plant substances that help protect the heart and arteries.

Green Beans

Naturally low in calories, string beans are loaded with vitamin K, which helps protect your bones. Also, a good source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A. But skip heavy sauces with this vegetable. Try beans lightly tossed with olive oil and lemon.


Nuts are chock-full of heart-healthy unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. 

Pumpkin Pie

This rich orange vegetable contains carotenoids for making Vitamin A in the body and fighting free radicals. Pumpkin is also a good source of potassium and fiber.  Beware: most pies are loaded with sugar – use artificial sweetener instead of sugar for a lower calorie dessert.

Yams & Sweet Potatoes

Yams offer carotenoids, potassium, Vitamin C, and fiber. Candied yams are high in sugar. Bake with a bit of brown sugar, or with artificial sweetener, for the taste without the calories. 

And some additional choices that are health and weight friendlier:

  • Whole grains, such as whole-wheat rolls, wild rice, and quinoa
  • Shrimp, lobster, and other steamed seafood
  • Plain or lightly dressed vegetables
  • Meat and poultry without the gravy
  • Salad greens (lightly dressed)
  • Fresh fruit

Foods to Avoid During the Holidays With Possible Substitutes

Swedish meatballs – instead, try some cold cuts like ham or turkey

Egg Nog – instead, try cinnamon or other spiced tea

Stuffed potatoes – instead, eat regular baked potatoes or red potatoes

Creamed spinach – instead, spinach without the cream or broccoli

Pot Roast – instead, breast of turkey or sliced steak

Fruitcake – instead, a fruit tart

Pecan Pie – instead, a fruit tart

Cheese Cake – instead, a slice of pound cake

Croissant – instead, some whole grain bread

Hot Buttered Rum – just leave out the butter, and then spice with nutmeg

Cinnamon Rolls – instead, a slice of toasted whole-grain bread with a bit of jelly

Ice Cream – instead, sorbet


Making sensible diet choices is easier than it seems and there’s no time like the present to start.

Here’s to a fun, tasty, and healthy holiday season!

Curt Hendrix, M.S. C.C.N. C.N.S.