The holiday treat you shouldn’t feel guilty about

Ham, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and rolls are all traditional holiday fare that’s not-so-diet-friendly.

But there are nutritional bright spots on your holiday table: If you munch on the proper nuts plucked from that piece of pie, you can undo some of the indulgences you’re likely to do.

Pecans, among other nuts, are packed with heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals…

And a study at Loma Linda University demonstrates that pecans may help contribute to overall heart health and disease prevention by increasing the amount of antioxidants in the body.

Pecans have an abundance of heart-healthy fats that improve blood cholesterol when eaten in moderation. In addition, they contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, zinc and potassium.

If a holiday meal makes you feel twice as full as a normal meal, make sure it includes pecans: The Loma Linda research shows that after eating pecans, gamma-tocopherol (vitamin E) levels in the body double, and unhealthy oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood decreases by as much as 33 percent.

Anytime you can lower your lipids with the right foods, that’s a win-win for you. That’s because you could be one step closer to giving up statins, if you’re already taking them. Cholesterol is actually beneficial to your health (especially your brain), while the statins that mainstream medicine are doling out like vitamins, on the other hand, can ruin your health.

The protein and fiber contents in pecans are worthy of praise as well. Just a 1-ounce serving can provide 11 percent of the necessary daily value for fiber. And, for protein content, a half ounce can take the place of 1 ounce of meat. Munching on handfuls of these nuts keep you feeling full and energetic while not threatening your waistline.

Just make sure to keep the other holiday treats under control. When pecans are paired with sugary or salty toppings or mixes, go easy on the trimmings. Even though pecans are a great source of nutrients, you need to look beyond the pecan pie.

Cara McCarthy

By Cara McCarthy

Cara McCarthy has been working in the natural health industry since 2010. She studied Marketing Communications at the University of Mississippi. Her goal is to provide people with the information they need to live the healthiest, happiest lives possible.