Gift baskets are a holiday staple – but if you’re on the receiving end, it’s important to be aware of which goodies are ‘naughty’ and which are ‘nice.’  Diet expert Dr. Michael Aziz helped us identify what to keep and what to toss.


“Cheese is great,” Aziz said. “Cheese has some protein.”

However, Aziz warned that if you have high blood pressure, be wary because cheese contains a lot of salt, which can raise blood pressure.  It is also high in calories.

Verdict: Keep


Pepperoni and other processed meats have a lot of added salts, Aziz said.  This is especially problematic, again, for people with high blood pressure.

Also, the meats have added nitrites, which have been linked to migraines, colon cancer and prostate cancer.

Verdict: Toss


Holiday sweets like candy canes, cookies and fruitcakes may taste delicious, but there’s little else to say in their favor.

“Here’s the problem,” Aziz said. “Most of the time, the ones we get in gift bags are preserved with hydrogenated fats and hydrogenated fats mean trans fats, meaning they're preserved in plastic.”

Not to mention these foods are loaded with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.

“They’re horrible for us,” Aziz said.

Verdict: Toss


“I would not throw away any alcohol,” Aziz said.  “Champagne is full of antioxidants.  Wine is rich in resveratrol, which is good to prevent heart disease.”

Just make sure to drink in moderation, he added.

Verdict: Keep

In addition to these items, Aziz also mentioned that you should throw away any crackers that aren’t whole grain, and keep foods like caviar, fruit and nuts, which are full of healthy nutrients.