The colors of the holiday season usually specifically bring to mind red and green. The green of the Christmas trees, the holly and the berries, the pine garlands and Jell-O molds. And you can’t forget the red Poinsettias, the red Christmas ornaments and the red bows on the wreaths decorating the streets. But what about the other reds and greens- you know the fruits and veggies that we should normally be eating to improve our health?
Let’s look at the powerhouse RED foods first. Our RED foods are packed with antioxidants that fight to keep us healthy by stabilizing the damage done by free radicals in our environment and warding off everything from heart disease to different types of cancers. Berries are full of fiber, low in calories and pack a sweet punch. Tomatoes are full of lycopene shown to keep our hearts healthy. Beets and other root vegetables– including carrots and sweet potatoes- are loaded with vitamin C, folic acid, a host of B vitamins and potassium. Studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have demonstrated benefits of cranberries ranging from prevention of urinary tract infections to reducing dental plaque. Preliminary research also shows that cranberries may even assist with the treatment and prevention of the H. Pylori bacteria that leads to stomach ulcers. Pomegranate seeds make a beautiful adornment to winter salads and the juice is a good mixer for punches
Let’s move on to our amazing GREEN foods. You have your basic iceberg and romaine lettuces but why not try something more adventurous this holiday season? Mesclun salad mixes usually include a variety of greens such as arugula, dandelion greens and fresh herbs that will certainly add flavor to your basic salads.
Recently, kale has been in the spotlight with its long list of nutritional benefits. Swiss chard and collard greens are full of calcium and are a delicious side dish for your holiday meal.And don’t forget the broccoli your parents always made you eat as a child. As for fruits, green grapes and kiwi are a great addition to your boring cereal for breakfast this winter. Pistachios are also a great snack for when you’re craving those salty chips.
So, this year as your pulling out your red Santa suit for your next holiday gathering, keep your belly from looking like a “bowl full of jelly” by following the USDA My Plate recommendations and fill those plates at least half-full of fruits and vegetables. Cut down your craving s for the Christmas cookies and fudge by eating your leafy greens and this just might be the year to finally avoid that extra holiday weight.
Heather Schmidt, DO