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Lycopene is a reddish pigment found in many plant foods, such as tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, guava, and grapefruit. One study conducted at the Harvard School of Medicine found that women with the highest levels of lycopene in the blood had a 33% lower risk of heart disease! (Read the abstract) Interestingly, a recent study found that consuming tomato powder was more protective against LDL oxidation in rats than a lycopene supplement. (Read the abstract.) This research suggests that lycopene may work in concert with other food components to increase its antioxidant power. Thus, whole food sources of lycopene are better than supplements. Reap even more benefits by including a little bit of fat with your meal to boost lycopene absorption.
Spruce up your holiday recipes with some healthier ingredients or choose a nutritious alternative to a seasonal favorite. Here are a few of my favorites:
Eggnog is a traditional holiday favorite but is usually high in calories and fat. Horizon Organic has a low fat eggnog that contains only 3 g of fat in a 1/2 cup serving compared to 9 g in the regular eggnog. This is a savings of about 50 calories.
If you are lactose intolerant, several dairies carrry a lactose free eggnog, but it is usaully the high fat variety. You might want to try a vegan eggnog such as Silk Soy Nog, which contains only 2 g of fat in a 1/2 cup serving. Another treat from the Silk people is Pumpkin Spice Soymilk that is offerred exclusively during the holidays.
Cheese is a staple of holiday entertaining but an item that is considered a ‘stay away from’ item on the party buffet if you are trying to control your weight and/or cholesterol. You can cut half the fat (4.5 g vs. 9 g) and 30 calories per 1-oz serving by choosing President Light Brie rather than the regular. The fat and calories are still high so portion control is important.
Another great cheese choice is goat cheese that usually contains less fat and calories than regular cheese. My favorite is Montchevre Cranberry Cinnamon Goat Cheese Lot. At just 4.5 g of fat and 80 calories per ounce, this is a treat at any time. The cranberry and cinnamon flavors lend a festive touch to your party table.
I can’t think of the holidays without including cranberries–tart cranberry relish, dried cranberries, cranberry juice in a holiday punch, cranberries baked into breads or muffins, and strings of popcorn and cranberries hanging on the Christmas tree. For a quick cranberry treat try Ocean Spray Craisin Trail Mix or Haagen Daz Fat Free Cranberry Blueberry Sorbet.