Ekahi Ornish Lifestyle Medicine
Photo: Spices

Adapted from Carra Richling’s original article

Tucked into some of our favorite holiday dishes is a secret gift for our health. The savory aroma of many traditional holiday delights comes from spices, which are filled with nutrients that help suppress cancer, prevent or manage diabetes, enhance our immunity and much more.


A holiday star, essential in mulled cider and baked goods, cinnamon may help reduce the risk of heart disease along with other possible benefits such as blood and cholesterol levels.

Of course, although cinnamon is good for you, it doesn’t make cinnamon rolls laden with sugar and white flour a healthy dessert. Use cinnamon over baked apples, oats, and low sugar desserts.


The comfort we feel from our spiced holiday drinks and desserts may come in part from the mild sedative, anti-anxiety and pain-relieving effects of two compounds in nutmeg: myristicin and elemicin. Nutmeg may also help reduce our risk of heart disease by reducing plaque build-up.

Add nutmeg to soy lattes, low-sugar desserts, and other healthy holiday dishes.


Think warm gingerbread cookies. Do watch out not to eat too much sugar, but know that ginger is practically a pharmacy. Ginger has many traditional medicinal uses with an astonishing array that includes treating inflammation; arthritis; muscle aches; sore throats and fever; gastrointestinal symptoms; hypertension, stroke and diabetes; dementia; and gum disease and toothache. 

Ginger can be used both in sweets and savories. Beyond ginger cookies, it tastes great in soups, stews, stir-fries, teas, seasoned tofu, and more.


This soft and savory herb is a classic in holiday stuffing and provides a warm, seasonal flavor. Sage also has an anti-inflammatory effects along with heart healthy properties.

Use in dressings, roasted vegetables and mashed potatoes or squash.

You can make holiday meals even more healthful by cutting back on fat, cholesterol and sugar. In baked goods, for example, use “flax-eggs,” which cut cholesterol and provide fiber and substitute calorie-free stevia for sugar.

What is your favorite way to add healthy holiday spices?

‘Ekahi Health, a member of the ‘ike family of companies (www.ikehawaii.com), is an innovative healthcare delivery organization that provides comprehensive community-based care focusing on primary care and prevention and wellness. It was the first organization to offer the Ornish program to the people of Hawaii.

For more information about ‘Ekahi Ornish Lifestyle Medicine, visit www.ekahiornish.com and follow them on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.