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Naughty and Nice Holiday Foods

Avoid holiday weight gain, and still enjoy the feast.
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'Good for You' Holiday Foods continued...

"Many holiday foods that people think they should avoid are actually healthy in small amounts," says Vasconcellos.

As long as you mind your portions, these perennial favorites are wise choices. For fewer calories, prepare them with an artificial sweetener used in cooking, such as Splenda. Here's what they have to offer, besides calories:

Applesauce and Apples

Heart-healthy fiber does indeed keep the doctor away. Look for unsweetened applesauce to get the fiber without the sugar. Bake apples with the skin to get a potent flavonoid called quercitin, which helps prevent heart disease.

Cheese

You get the most bone-building calcium and protein from hard cheeses.

Cranberry Sauce (Unsweetened)

Cranberries spell trouble for bacteria that cause most urinary tract infections. If you like sweet cranberries, add a minimal amount of sugar, or artificial sweetener.

Dark Chocolate

Seventy percent dark chocolate contains the most flavonols -- helpful plant substances that help decrease cholesterol.

Green Beans

Naturally low in calories, string beans are loaded with vitamin K, which helps protect your bones. Also, a good source of vitamin C and vitamin A. But skip heavy sauces with this veggie. Try beans lightly tossed with olive oil and lemon.

Nuts

Nuts are chock-full of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

Pumpkin Pie

This rich orange vegetable contains carotenoids for making vitamin A in the body and fighting free radicals. Pumpkin is also a good source of potassium and fiber. Beware: most pies are loaded with sugar. Use artificial sweetener instead of sugar for a lower calorie dessert.

Yams/Sweet Potatoes

Yams offer carotenoids, potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. Candied yams are high in sugar. Bake with a bit of brown sugar, or with artificial sweetener, for the taste without the calories.

Make Nice With Naughty Holiday Foods

Sure, they taste great and they tempt you to eat too much, but it rarely pays to avoid favorite holiday foods, no matter how caloric.

"Depriving yourself of a holiday treat can backfire and make you crave the food even more, leading to overeating," says Bissex.

Choose wisely, Bissex recommends.

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