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Spice up your Holiday Menu for Added Health Benefits

  • author name Gabrielle Nichisti, RD, LDN
Healthy Salad

As you think of holiday foods, turkey, ham, candied yams, and, of course, cookies come to mind. We pay little attention to the variety of spices that are often used, but their aroma and taste are what really evoke that holiday nostalgia. What’s more, they have a variety of health benefits.

Here are just a few of the spices you can use and some ideas for ways to incorporate them in your holiday meals and parties.


Culinary use: Adds a sweet and spicy kick to baked goods and pairs particularly well with members of the gourd family like pumpkins and sweet potatoes.

Health benefit: Cinnamon has been associated with decreasing blood sugar levels in people with type 1 and 2 diabetes and has been linked to lowered cholesterol levels in the same population. Research is inconclusive about the amount of cinnamon needed to see these benefits but current studies indicate a dose of at least 1.25 teaspoons a day are needed to see improvement.

Nutritious swap: Sprinkle a few teaspoons into your coffee grounds before brewing for a zero-calorie holiday treat!


Culinary use: Aromatic ginger complements many traditional Asian dishes and is frequently used to add depth of flavor to sweeter dishes like muffins or cookies. Ginger can be purchased and used in three different preparations: ground, fresh, or crystallized.

Health benefit: Ginger is a known stomach soother and can help decrease nausea, vomiting, dizziness, morning sickness, and motion sickness. Credit ginger’s potent antioxidant content for the spice’s calming capabilities.

Nutritious swap: Add a finely chopped chunk of crystallized ginger to your next smoothie for a sweet surprise. It pairs particularly well with berries, frozen bananas, and orange juice.


Culinary use: Pairs well with lean proteins like shrimp and poultry, particularly when combined with rosemary and thyme. Sage is also used regularly in vegetarian dishes featuring legumes or nuts and when baking savory breads or scones.

Health benefit: Aids in digestion and can help to regulate appetite in addition to decreasing the severity of heartburn, bloating, and stomach pain. New research has hypothesized that there may be a link between positive mood swings and sage consumption.

Nutritious swap: Shake up your pesto by swapping the standard basil for a combination of sage and parsley.

author name

Gabrielle Nichisti, RD, LDN

Gabrielle Nichisti, RD, LDN, is a registered dietitian with the Diabetes and Nutrition Center at Lancaster General Health.

Education: A graduate of the Pennsylvania State University, Nichisti values both education and counseling to connect with her patients. Passionate about leading an enjoyable, healthy lifestyle, Nichisti strives to help others overcome obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Call: 717-544-5923

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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