14 Holiday Foods You Should Eat Year-Round For Your Health
Often times, the holidays signify an overindulgence in fatty, sugar-laden foods, but you might be surprised by just how many dishes that debut on that dinner table are good for your health. So long as they’re prepared in nutritious ways, these foods can be (and should be) eaten all year long so you can reap major health benefits, not to mention enjoy some kickass flavors. Every day can be a holiday if you and that stocked refrigerator allow it to be.
So long as you roast your bird rather than deep-fry it at the holidays, turkey can easily be considered one of the healthiest foods on the dinner table. It’s packed with lean protein and low in not-so-great fats, and it’s a solid (cheap) source of iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium and B vitamins. Pro tip: Cooking your own fresh turkey breast is definitely healthier than grabbing cold cuts from the deli counter.
This centerpiece of Cinco De Mayo is loaded with good-for-you monounsaturated fats, and the fruit is naturally void of sugar, salt and cholesterol. Whip up a healthy bowl of guac or slap some slices on freshly toasted bread any day of the week, and you’ll be in great shape.
3. Sweet Potatoes
This sweet carb centerpiece is actually chock-full of beta-carotene, which is a form of vitamin A. They’re also loaded with vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid and vitamin B6. Their dietary fiber content is nothing to scoff at, either. Just make sure you bake them instead of mashing them up with a ton of marshmallows in a casserole dish.
This juicy, refreshing fruit makes its way onto every summer BBQ table from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July, providing a nice nutritional boost to our sunnier days. Watermelon contains riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium and lycopene. It’s also very hydrating.
If you pull your cranberry sauce out of a can at Thanksgiving, it’s time to upgrade to the homemade stuff. Fresh cranberries (at any point in the year) are loaded with antioxidants, making them a favorite superfood in a lot of American households. They’re also high in vitamins A, C and K. Adding a splash of fresh tart cranberry juice to a glass of water packs a nice, flavorful kick.
6. Green Beans
Before those crunchy and slightly sweet green beans are thrown into that disastrous casserole, they’re actually a rich source of vitamins A, C and K, as well as folic acid and fiber. Plus, they’re super easy to sauté in a pan with a little olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. You can also toss them into a stir-fry for a nutritious one-dish dinner.
You know all of those eggs you hard boil and then dye funky pastel colors when Easter rolls around? Eating them can really up your health game. Eggs are full of high-quality protein, healthy fat, iron, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids. And if you like the taste and texture of hard-boiled eggs, they’re a super easy and portable breakfast, lunch or snack option.
8. Collard Greens
Okay, so most people avoid this dish at the holiday dinner table, but these dark leafy greens are sooo good for you! They’re an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K, manganese, dietary fiber and calcium. If you can’t stomach them on their own, our best tip is to throw them into your latest stew recipe in lieu of another leafy green like kale. Trust us — you’ll barely notice they’re there.
Whether your family likes shrimp cocktail at basically every holiday party or grilled shrimp skewers at the summer holiday BBQs, this high-protein crustacean should stick around in your diet all year long. They’re full of things like selenium, vitamin B12, phosphorous, choline, copper and iodine. Just make sure you opt for wild-caught shrimp over their farm-raised cousins.
Gingerbread, gingersnaps… what’s not to love about ginger? This root is more of a spice than a standalone food, but adding it to your dishes can work wonders on your digestion, as well as fight unwanted inflammation in the body. It’s also been known to lower blood sugar levels and improve heart disease risk factors. So keep some fresh ginger root on hand for some soothing after-dinner tea each night.
You honestly can’t have a summer holiday without corn on the cob. And when it’s freshly roasted or grilled, corn boasts a healthy amount of fiber, folate, thiamin, phosphorus, vitamin C and magnesium. Unfortunately, these health benefits don’t stick around for your grandma’s corn casserole or that loaf of sweet honey cornbread, but we’ll take ’em where we can get ’em.
From apple pie to baked apples to fresh apple slices paired with brie cheese, apples are the focal point of so many fall holidays. And when you eat them fresh as part of your regular diet, great things happen. They’re naturally free of salt, fat and cholesterol, and they are loaded with gut-healthy fiber. So pair the fruit with your homemade nut butter of choice, and get to snacking!
As long as you’re not candying them or eating them in pie form, pecans are a mighty nutritious nut. In addition to a ton of healthy fats, pecans have a solid dose of dietary fiber and over 19 vitamins and minerals, including but not limited to vitamins A and E, calcium, potassium and zinc. Plus, they taste amazing when crumbled up and tossed in a fresh batch of oatmeal or on top of roasted sweet potatoes.
From Easter bunnies to s’mores to hot cocoa by the fire, what holiday is complete without chocolate? (The answer is none — abolutely none.) And luckily, all of those flavonoids in cocoa help to take care of your heart when they’re not diluted by too much dairy and sugar. So don’t hesitate to whip up a batch of hot dark chocolate or eat a few dark chocolate squares for dessert when the craving strikes.