Reporting Dr. Max Gomez
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NEW YORK (CBS 2) — The flavors and aromas of the holiday can do more than add to the festive atmosphere – many of the spices, and even some of the decorations, can actually be holiday remedies.
As CBS 2’s Max Gomez reports, the herbs can help you celebrate while they also make you feel better.
The rich scent of pine, the simple joy of a candy cane, and the many temptations of the holiday season are enough to trigger anyone’s appetite.
“Thanksgiving to New Year’s is referred to as ‘the eating season,’” Lauren Slayton, of foodtrainers.net, said.
If you include the distinctive flavors of some popular herbs and spices, the season that’s known for indulgence can also be one of good health.
“When you talk about spices, you’re talking about something with negligible calories and numerous benefits,” Slayton said. “Whether it is mint for your digestion, or a little bit of cinnamon, let’s say, it makes it seem like you are doing something for yourself.”
Cinnamon’s benefits have been well documented.
“Half a teaspoon a day, used for a 30- or 40-day period, can help stabilize their blood sugar level and lower their bad cholesterol,” Slayton said.
Even holiday décor can offer some healing properties – pine and holly can serve as great aromatherapy to ease congestion.
“Pine bark is a source of resveratrol, which is the antioxidant found in red wine, that’s sort of used for all sorts of purposes – weight loss included,” Slayton said.
Emily Zagorski made a New Year’s resolution last year to incorporate healthy alternatives into her diet, and so far she’s lost 20 pounds.
“Candy canes are my favorite thing about the holidays, but now that I’ve gotten used to peppermint in its natural form, it’s a little bit easier to substitute a cup of mint tea for a candy cane,” she said.
Peppermint is also effective as a topical application. In spas, it’s often applied as a topical treat for exfoliating and moisturizing.
“Peppermint is wonderful for your skin, especially in the winter months,” Alexis Wolfer, of thebeautybean.com, said. “It’s aromatherapy benefits are great for relieving sinus pressure.”
Peppermint is also helpful for digestion, as is allspice.
“It’s great for relieving indigestion, any upset stomach that comes from holiday indulgences,” Wolfer said.
To help you relax, try sprinkling some nutmeg on your eggnog.
“Nutmeg is great because it can boost our serotonin levels, which can help us relax and fall asleep more easily,” Wolfer said. “All of these ingredients, whether it’s the cinnamon or the peppermint, are great for holiday spirit and also for settling our minds and our bodies in a natural, organic way.”
Experts say that you should be careful with nutmeg and holly berries, however – using too much can be toxic. A good rule of thumb, for the holidays and every day, is to keep all things in moderation.