5 Traditional Holiday Foods With Surprising Health Benefits

The holidays are a time for food, drink, and celebration, but the tasty treats we crave throughout the season can wreak serious havoc on our diets. It is possible, however, to maintain a healthy diet through the holidays while allowing yourself to indulge here and there, especially when considering the healthier aspects of your favorite holiday dishes.

Read on to learn the hidden health benefits of five traditional holiday foods. This year, you can celebrate the season without guilt — so long as you celebrate in moderation!

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1. Gingerbread men

The gingerbread man is a staple of the holiday season, sweetened with molasses and brown sugar or maple syrup. Food’s traditional recipe incorporates a generous scoop of ginger, which lends the treat its distinctively spiced taste. While these cookies don’t top the charts in terms of nutrition, they do offer their share of benefits in comparison to other holiday desserts. For instance, Real Simple points out that the average gingerbread cookie has about half the calories of the average sugar cookie.

On top of the cookie’s caloric advantages, its chief ingredient, ginger, has been touted as an herbal remedy (and cooking spice) for thousands of years, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center. Ginger root is used to treat nausea, vomiting, and osteoarthritic pain. Preliminary studies suggest that the herb could also aid in lowering cholesterol and preventing harmful blood clots, which could prove useful in seeking natural treatments for heart disease.