Holiday Recipes: Make Your Feast Healthier With These Three Ingredients

Holiday spices could actually help lower blood pressure or assist with digestion. Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Crisco

Holiday baking and cooking isn't thought of as healthy, but here's a little news to make you feel better: It's not all bad. Sure, watching your calories and not going overboard on eggnog or cookies is important, but some of those festive recipes could have some actual health benefits. To feel a little better about your winter-time recipes, make sure to load up on these three ingredients:

Related: Winter Meal Prep: Can Crock Pots Give You Lead Poisoning?


Traditionally called Jamaica pepper, this bakery staple is not in fact a blend of seasonings, but rather comes from a tree that is found (shocker) in Jamaica. The seasoning can also be found in other warm climates such as Central America and parts of Mexico. There is some evidence that allspice has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and could also help lower the severity of E. coli. However, before you get too crazy, too much allspice oil has been thought to actually promote inflammation, not to mention induce nausea and vomiting.


A popular ingredient for those holiday cookies, anise is one of the oldest plants used for medicinal purposes, according to Registered Dietitian Densie Webb. In a story on Today's Dietitian, Webb explained that studies have shown that it's a source of antioxidants and could also serve as a muscle relaxant. Plus, there's evidence that it could even help with hot flashes and digestion.


This baking staple is used in traditional Chinese medications and have been touted for their antioxidants as some studies have shown that they help maintain the amount of a protein called Glutathione, or GSH, which offers protection against free radical damage. Several studies have shown that it could also help lower the blood sugar levels in diabetics, and a study in 2015 indicated it could be used in addition to traditional medications to manage type 2 diabetes. However, there is still a lot of research that needs to be done, particularly on its effectiveness and safety.

Those with high blood pressure could also benefit from adding a sprinkling on their oatmeal, as one study in animals showed that it helped lower blood pressure readings. In humans, a small study of only 59 people indicated that those who supplemented their diets with cinnamon experienced a decrease in systolic blood pressure.

Of course, you will still want to limit how many cookies and cakes you indulge in this holiday season. And much of this research is not indicative of actual evidence, so take everything with a grain of salt, or cinnamon.