4 Spices to Help You Maintain Your Waistline During the Holidays

Let’s face it: it’s hard to resist all the delicious meals and decadent treats during the holiday season. While some restraint is always a good idea, you can also help prevent the seasonal weight gain that is so common during the festive season by incorporating more spices into your diet. Here are some of the best ones to help you manage your weight during the holidays:

Not just delicious sprinkled over lattes or in holiday desserts, cinnamon also helps boost your metabolism and encourage weight loss (or at least help prevent weight gain during the holidays). Research in the journal Lipids in Health and Disease found that cinnamon improved all markers of the condition known as metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of symptoms which include: excessive abdominal fat, high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It is often a precursor to diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

While cloves may make a great addition to mulled apple cider during the winter months, research suggests that it might be worthwhile to boost your consumption of cloves to other foods. That’s because a recent study in the medical journal Frontiers in Pharmacology found that the holiday spice cloves may actually have a role to play in metabolic disorders. It seems that the spice helps to regulate metabolic processes that occur in the intestines, helping to improve treatment for metabolic disorders.

In addition to adding a spicy note to gingerbread and helping to alleviate pain and inflammation, it turns out that the gingerroot also offers blood sugar balancing effects. Balancing blood sugar levels is critical to maintaining or obtaining a healthy weight because high blood sugar triggers the secretion of the fat-hoarding hormone, insulin, from the pancreas. A study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that ginger significantly lowered high blood sugar levels. As an added bonus, the study also found that ginger reduced LDL cholesterol, and raised HDL cholesterol in animals with diabetes, suggesting that the herb may also offer potential as a natural diabetes treatment.

Nutmeg is largely known for adding the classic flavor to eggnog and vegan eggnog beverages. But research published in the journal Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters shows that this holiday spice warrants further consideration in your diet. That’s because scientists discovered that nutmeg contains, not one, not two, but several compounds that can help with weight management, the treatment of diabetes and obesity-related conditions.

You can add any of these spices to desserts like gingerbread, sugar cookies, pies and cakes, but you can also add them to savory dishes, too. Cinnamon and ginger are a welcome addition to curries, nutmeg is a great addition to vegan cheese sauces and cheese balls, and all of the above spices can be used sparingly in stews to give them a unique and delicious flavor—but perhaps not all at once. Moroccan savory dishes, for example, often contain cinnamon. Thai, Chinese and many other Asian dishes often benefit from the addition of fresh ginger.