As I have mentioned numerous times this month maintaining a healthy diet over the Christmas holidays can prove extremely difficult. One of the reasons for this is that candy and cakes are so much more prevalent around this time of year. Everyone seems to be offering you candy, mince pies, chocolate logs or Christmas pudding. Often the temptation to snack on these festive treats can prove too difficult to resist. When this happens I find dried fruit and nuts are a very effective tool. In this article I will be discussing exactly why dried fruits are an effective substitute for these Christmas candies.
1) THEY TASTE SWEETER THAN MOST FRUITS:- Most fruits contain a lot of water. This dilutes their taste hence the reason that most people find an apple does not satisfy their sweet tooth in the same way that a handful of candy will. However, dried fruits have most of the original water removed and therefore have a much sweeter, more concentrated taste. Because of this sweeter taste they are much more likely to satisfy your craving for a sugary treat than other fruits. Plus, they have a much greater nutritional value than the usual festive treats that are offered around.
2) THEY CONTAIN LESS SUGAR THAN OTHER CHRISTMAS TREATS:- The sugar in dried fruits is a lot more concentrated than most non-dried fruit. However, they are mixed in with nuts. Therefore, grabbing a handful of dried fruit and nuts will give you less sugar than a chocolate log or a cookie making it the healthier choice.
Be careful though. Just because dried fruit and nuts are a better choice than Christmas candy does not mean you can overindulge. Eating too much sugar in any form has a number of adverse side effects including tooth decay, a suppressed immune system and large fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Plus, the calories in dried fruit and nuts can quickly add up if you don’t watch your consumption. By all means enjoy them as a snack but make sure you exercise some moderation.
3) THEY ARE A GOOD SOURCE OF FIBRE:- Both dried fruit and nuts are a good source of fibre, particularly soluble. Fibre has a number of benefits. It contains zero calories, acts as an effective appetite suppressant, helps your body absorb vitamins & minerals and can also help regulate blood sugar levels. Most people do not get enough fibre and candy contains little to none. Therefore, by eating dried fruit and nuts instead you can enjoy these benefits and still satisfy your sweet tooth.
4) THEY ARE A GOOD SOURCE OF VITAMINS:- Nuts are a rich source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant which can protect your body’s cells from oxidative damage. They are also full of vitamin B6 (which helps your body break down protein, produce red blood cells and regulate hormones) and vitamin B9 (which helps your body produce DNA & RNA and works with vitamin B12 to produce red blood cells). On top of this vitamins B6 and B9 have been linked with a healthy immune system.
Dried fruits are a great source of most water soluble vitamins which have a number of important functions including helping the body convert blood sugar into energy and assisting with hormone production. They are also rich in vitamin C which helps the body produce collagen, a protein in connective tissue that is essential for the proper healing of wounds. Chocolate and sugary sweets are not nearly as rich in vitamins as dried fruit and nuts which makes the latter a much more nutritionally sound choice.
5) THEY ARE RICH IN OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS:- Nuts are a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids which have been linked with a reduced risk of heart disease and are also thought to lower high blood pressure. They are also believed to increase grey matter volume in the part of the brain associated with emotions and therefore could help boost people’s moods. Contrastingly, the fats found in Christmas treats are not nearly as healthy.
As you can see dried fruit and nuts are a fantastic food in a nutritional sense and they can satisfy your sweet tooth too. I always bring a bag of them to the office and try to eat them instead of any treats that are floating around. If you haven’t tried them yet go and buy a bag today. They’re a fantastic snack with countless health benefits.
Now I would like to hear from you guys. Do you agree that dried fruits and nuts are a good festive snack? Do you find they are a good way to help you avoid the Christmas candy? Are there any benefits I have missed? Do you have any other healthy snack suggestions?
Want an early Christmas present? Click the banner below to grab a copy of Lose Weight for the Holidays: