Healthy eating choices to get you through the season.
Red or White Wine?
The Better Choice: Red Wine
For that you can thank the skin of the grape. “That’s where the antioxidant resveratrol is found,” says Ann Yelmokas McDermott, Ph.D., a nutrition researcher at Tufts University, in Boston. Resveratrol, a phytochemical with a structure similar to estrogen’s, has a number of beneficial properties, such as anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant, and cholesterol-improving effects.
But… The grape skins that make red wine healthy are also the source of tannins, which can cause headaches in some people. White wine doesn’t contain tannins, so it’s less likely to trigger headaches.
Mixed Nuts or Olives?
The Better Choice: Olives
Like olive oil, olives are high in monounsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol. They’re also low in calories. Each olive has only about five calories and less than a gram of fat, while one pecan, for example, has almost 14 calories and nearly two grams of fat. And though you can toss back numerous nuts almost too easily, olives often require a little more work. And when you’re left with a plateful of pits, you’ll know exactly how many you’ve put away.
But… Nuts are also high in monounsaturated fats, and they’re a good source of fibre and arginine, an amino acid that helps keep blood vessels relaxed and open.
Cheese and Crackers or Crudités and Dip?
The Better Choice: Crudités and Dip
A platter of nutrient-rich vegetables wins over a saturated fat–filled cheese board. But even here some offerings are better than others. “Favour colourful vegetables, like red peppers, carrots, and broccoli,” suggests Kristine Clark, a registered dietician and the director of sports nutrition at Penn State University, in State College, Pennsylvania. Filling your plate with such a mix guarantees that you’re eating a wide variety of vitamins and antioxidants.
But… If the dip contains sour cream or mayonnaise, you’ll be scooping up lots of extra calories and saturated fat along with every bite. So don’t double-dip.
Roast Beef or Ham?
The Better Choice: Roast Beef
Roast beef is less processed, contains about half as much saturated fat, and has three times as much iron. It’s also rich in B vitamins. Both meats are great sources of protein, but the ham has almost three times as much sodium.
But… Research has linked red-meat consumption with an increased risk of colon cancer. One study published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that women who ate two or more ounces of red meat a day were 30 to 40 percent more likely to develop colon cancer than those who ate little or none. Whichever option you choose, eat it sparingly.
Champagne or a Cocktail?
The Better Choice: Champagne
Bring on the bubbly. From a purely caloric standpoint, Champagne is the clear winner of this contest. A flute has about 75 calories, while a mixed drink, like a whiskey sour, can have up to 240 calories. Some experts say the bubbles may even help fill you up, so you won’t feel as tempted by the endless cocktail-party treats.
But… You can slim down a cocktail by using a sugar-free mixer or club soda instead of fruit juice, tonic, or a sugary mix. And although a screwdriver or a Cosmo does contain juice, the health benefits are probably not worth the extra calories.