Holiday Treats That Are More Than Guilt-Free
The holidays are a time for family, friends and celebration. And for many of us, they’re also a time for unhealthy eating habits. All those holiday treats can really take a toll on your health.
So here are three tasty ways to boost your health this holiday season. All three promote healthier blood sugar and/or blood pressure – two of the holiday season’s top victims.
First up are good old sunflower seeds. Almost everyone loves their nutty flavor – but it’s their nutrition that will knock your socks off.
Sunflower seeds are a rich source of magnesium, which promotes healthy blood sugar and blood pressure levels.1 plus, they’re packed with other minerals – like copper, selenium and manganese.
Sunflower seeds are also extremely high in vitamin E, an important antioxidant. Just a quarter-cup contains over 90% of the RDA of this critical vitamin.
Raw, unsalted sunflower seeds are a perfect option at any holiday party. They’re delicious, filling and good for your heart.
You may not serve this next suggestion at your holiday parties… but it’s a holiday flavor favorite you can turn into a personal treat.
I’m talking about cinnamon.
We often think of cinnamon in terms of cookies and other sweet foods. But this spice has tremendous health benefits – when you separate it from the sugar overload.
According to researchers at the Department of Agriculture, cinnamon is the perfect holiday spice. It supports weight loss, greater antioxidant activity, healthier blood sugar and blood pressure levels, and even lower levels of cholesterol.2
Of course, eating a slice of gingerbread cake won’t help. But try mixing a half-teaspoon of cinnamon into a half-cup or so of all-natural applesauce. (The kind with no sugar added.) It’s a great any time treat. You can even enjoy it in place of calorie-laden apple pie for dessert. It’s all the flavor with none of the guilt.
Finally, let’s look at almost everyone’s favorite treat: chocolate.
I don’t recommend milk chocolate. It’s loaded with sugar. But dark chocolate is another story – especially dark chocolate with a high cocoa content.
Cocoa is loaded with flavinols – plant pigments that provide potent health benefits. And the more cocoa, the “darker” the chocolate.
There have been several studies on chocolate and blood pressure. A recent Australian review of 13 studies came to a clear conclusion. Dark chocolate promotes lower blood pressure levels in people with high blood pressure.3
An Italian study also found that dark chocolate supports better blood sugar control.4
Look for organic chocolate – and made with cocoa not “Dutch process.” Most people enjoy dark chocolates made with up to 75% cocoa. Higher cocoa contents are an acquired taste.
If you’re not loading up on sweets, an ounce of dark chocolate two or three times a week is a delicious way to promote better heart health. And a wonderful holiday treat.
You probably can’t avoid all the holiday temptations. But you can usually substitute one these healthy options. They’re a great way to indulge yourself this holiday season – without all the guilt.
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
1 See http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/magnesium/.
2 Qin B, et al. Cinnamon: potential role in the prevention of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2010 May 1;4(3):685-93.
3 Ried K, et al. Does chocolate reduce blood pressure? A meta-analysis. BMC Med. 2010 Jun 28;8:39.
4 Grassi D, et al. Short-term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Mar;81(3):611-4.