‘Tis the season for holiday parties and celebrations, and no party is complete without festive holiday cocktails. But, unfortunately, all of those vibrant martinis and creamy concoctions come with a lot of baggage: synthetic dyes, artificial sweeteners, sugar, and plenty of unhealthy calories. (A White Russian can set you back 863 calories!)
Unhealthy holiday cocktails to avoid
1. Spiced Eggnog: Most nutritionists agree that eggnog is a holiday nightmare full of unhealthy saturated fats. While tasty and festive, you are drinking a cup of raw egg yolks, milk, heavy cream, and artificial sugar. Drinking just one warm glass is like eating two whole doughnuts along with rum.
2. White Russian: A White Russian can be made a number of ways, but it typically contains Kahlua, vodka, and either heavy cream or milk. Consuming just one of these unhealthy holiday cocktails is like eating a Double Cheeseburger and an order of French fries at McDonalds.
3. Mudslide: Basically a fancier rendition of a White Russian with Bailey’s Irish Cream and chocolate syrup, a mudslide is one of the highest caloric holiday cocktails you can order (851 calories). Calories aside, a traditional mudslide also calls for chocolate syrup, which can contain high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners and flavors.
4. Mulled Wine: Though a sweet concoction of heart-healthy red wine, fruit, and herbs isn’t all that bad for you, mulled wine is packed with sugar. Most recipes call for 1/3 cup of sugar per four glasses. There is a reason it makes you feel wired after a few steaming cups.
Three Swaps: Healthier Holiday Cocktails
1. Champagne: Bubbly is festive and actually offers some health benefits, too. With a high level of polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant, Champagne has been shown to protect the brain against neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. On the calorie side, a 4-ounce glass delivers only 85 calories.
2. Vodka & Sparkling Water: Simple in nature, vodka and sparkling water contains no preservatives, sugar, artificial sweeteners or added flavors (unless you buy flavored vodka). The sparkling water adds a lil’ festive kick over tap water, especially when topped with a lemon or lime wedge. Studies also show that vodka could help in treating heart problems and certain cancers.
3. White or Red Sangria: Sangria doesn’t sound festive, but it offers a great, healthier alternative to mulled wine. The vitamins and minerals in the orange juice and fruits are a plus-vitamins A, C, B6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, calcium, iron, and magnesium. Plus, as we all know, red wine is celebrated for protecting against heart disease and cancer, while white wine is good for your lungs. Whether you prefer red or white, both will help increase good cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Image: Tom Ipri