Herbs and spices
Ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and other oft-used holiday flavorings are beneficial, too. Research has found that ginger helps relieve nausea, for example, and ginger tea is a home remedy for colds and certain viral infections. Some research suggests cinnamon may help diabetics better manage their blood sugar levels, but that doesn't mean binging on maple-cinnamon pumpkin pie is healthy. "[Cinnamon] does not antidote carbs," says Adriane Fugh-Berman, a specialist in herbal medicine and dietary supplements at Georgetown University. Clove oil has historically been used to dull toothaches while oil from peppermint—another seasonal favorite—is a centuries-old aid for digestion. In the heartburn-prone, however, peppermint may cause more pain than pleasure, says Fugh-Berman. One big bonus of using herbs and spices: They may reduce the need for salt or sugar, says Thayer.