7 Holiday Superfoods

Holiday eating isn't all bad! These foods can help improve your health and keep you feeling jolly over the holiday season

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    Cinnamon The sweet spice cinnamon is popular during the holidays, flavoring cookies and pies, eggnog, ciders and even meats. But besides being tasty, cinnamon has many health benefits. “Cinnamon tea has been drunk to alleviate colds and congestion, and to treat diarrhea,” according to the Medicine Hunter, Chris Kilham.   Follow Dr. Manny on Twitter! And cinnamon contains many antioxidant compounds, so it helps to prevent premature destruction of the body’s healthy cells. Most importantly, cinnamon is effective in lowering high blood sugar levels in diabetics, because it contains cinnamtannin B1, a compound that combats Type 2 diabetes, Kilham said.
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    Cranberries "Cranberries are able to prevent bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract, thus preventing urinary tract infections," said Terri Camesano, an associate professor in chemical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in central Massachusetts. According to Downing, new research has shown that cranberries could also help with a range of medical problems, from preventing cavities to warding off viral infections. Though he is quick to point out such results are preliminary and need more testing before they can confidently say the benefits are documented.
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    Pumpkin Pumpkins seeds contain many important nutrients: iron, which is essential for blood cells; zinc, which can increase testosterone and form protein; calcium, which builds strong bones and magnesium, which builds healthy nerves and muscles. Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of protein and the essential fatty acid omega-3.
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    Wine In moderation, drinking wine is good for cardiovascular health. Resveratrol, a component of wine, acts as an antioxidant and prevents cellular damage in the body, but it also prevents blood clotting and plaque formation in arteries. Studies have shown that wine can also prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Both red and white wine have their unique benefits, so chose your favorite! Follow Dr. Manny on Twitter!
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    Ginger Those little brown men aren’t just the cutest Christmas cookies, they may be one of the healthiest options. Ginger has long been known as a superfood, and has a wide range of benefits. Stomach feeling a little upset after Grandma’s famous gelatin salad? One of the biggest benefits of ginger is easing nausea, and many doctors recommend it as a natural way for pregnant women to stop feeling woozy. Ginger oil has even been used for massage and can relieve arthritis with its anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger is often included in many herbal decongestants and can help to minimize the symptoms of respiratory conditions, colds and allergies. With continuing research ginger root is quickly becoming a popular medicinal herb. All sweets, even during the holidays should be eaten in moderation—but when you reach for dessert, a ginger-based treat is a good alternative to cheesecake.
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    Pecans This all-American tree nut is often scattered among many holiday dishes. Pecan pie, stuffing and appetizers. Pecans are high in fiber, a good source of protein, contain healthy fats, and are rich in antioxidants, like vitamin E. They will help fill you up as a snack before your big holiday meal so you don’t head to the table with an empty stomach. New York City nutritionist Tanya Zuckerbrot told FoxNews.com she prefers pecans over most carbohydrate-based snacks. “Just one ounce of nuts fill you up, and their flavor won’t let you down either. The fiber and fat help satisfy your appetite, while the protein helps maintain blood glucose levels over time,” she said. “The pure crunch factor of having to chew a nut several times before you’re ready to pass it on down the digestive tract also helps promote a feeling of satiety sooner than many other snacks.” Pecans are also considered one of the best nuts for cooking. Just be careful of how much you have—a serving size should fit comfortably in the palm of your hand.
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    Nutmeg Nutmeg, native to Indonesia’s spice islands, contains a range of aromatic compounds beneficial to overall digestion. “Nutmeg contains anti-inflammatory agents as well, which help to relieve pain,” Kilham said. Follow Dr. Manny on Twitter! Nutmeg is also rich in the super-antioxidant quercetin, which provides powerful protection to the body and brain. So be sure to have ground nutmeg handy this year when you serve egg nog.
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