Dr Manny's Notes

Healthy St. Patrick's Day foods and drinks

Pints of Guinness are seen in a pub. (REUTERS/Peter Macdiarmid)

Pints of Guinness are seen in a pub. (REUTERS/Peter Macdiarmid)

St. Patrick’s Day should be a time to celebrate Christianity and honor Saint Patrick, who died on March 17, 461 AD. St Patrick spent much of his life living in poverty and preaching Catholicism, while converting the people of Ireland to his religion. The famous symbol of St. Patrick’s Day – the shamrock – was originally used by St. Patrick to explain the Holy Trinity to worshippers.

Today, St. Patrick’s Day has also become associated with food and drink – and some of the foods associated with St. Patrick’s Day, consumed in moderation, can help you live a long, healthy life.

At only 170 calories, this beer is relatively guilt-free. Guinness is  full of vitamins, especially vitamin B, and also contains antioxidants like flavonoids. A study from the University of Wisconsin also demonstrated that drinking Guinness may be associated with lower  cholesterol levels – the antioxidants in Guinness slow the build-up of cholesterol on artery walls.

Irish whiskey
Irish whiskey is low in carbs and is also fat free. Whiskey contains ellagic acid, which some studies indicate contains cancer-fighting properties, according to the American Cancer Society. In moderation, whiskey can be beneficial for the cardiovascular system and can help prevent strokes. And let’s face it, if it was good enough for Winston Churchill it is good enough for me.

Corned beef
This traditional Irish food is high in protein, zinc, B vitamins and thiamin. However, corned beef is generally made from fatty cuts of meat, so the fat and cholesterol levels in this dish tend be a little on the high side.

Cabbage is high in vitamin C and contains sulfur-based compounds, which help rid the body of toxins. Cabbage also contains compounds like lupeol, sinigrin and sulforaphane, which have cancer-fighting properties. Studies in women have also shown a reduction in breast cancer when cruciferous vegetables like cabbage were added to their diets.

Soda bread
Soda bread uses baking soda and buttermilk as its raising agent, instead of yeast, which means it doesn’t give people that bloated feeling they may experience after eating other types of bread. Even better: The buttermilk used in most soda breads is low fat, and many soda breads are high in fiber.  

A small yellow potato is low in calories and is also rich potassium, magnesium and vitamin C. Potatoes are also a great source of carbohydrates, protein and calcium.

Onions contain quercetin, a flavonoid known to play a role in preventing cancer, in addition to chromium, which assists in regulating blood sugar. The phytochemicals in onions also improve the function of vitamin C in the body, which can help give your immune system a boost.

Leeks are low in calories, high in antioxidants and contain high amounts of fiber. Leeks also contain allicin, an antimicrobial compound, and are full of folic acids – which can help lower cholesterol.

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Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.