Holiday Face-Off: Which is Healthier?
Food Network Magazine staged a holiday face-off and asked a registered dietitian to name the better choices. Before you bake your holiday faves, see how these staples stack up.
WINNER: It's a draw. The less processed version isn't always the better pick: Unbleached and bleached flour have identical calorie, fiber and protein counts. The FDA regulates the ingredients used to whiten flour, so they're only added in safe amounts. But if you're worried about eating something with the word "bleach" on the label anyway, go the unbleached route.
WINNER: Raisins. Raisins and dried cranberries have similar amounts of sugar, but all of the sugar in raisins comes from what's naturally present in grapes, while more than half of the calories in dried cranberries can come from sweeteners that manufacturers add to make them taste less tart.
WINNER: It's a draw. Nutritionally, white and brown eggs are the same—the color comes from the breed of the hen that laid them. You might assume that brown eggs' higher price tag means they're healthier, but they just cost more because chickens that lay brown eggs are larger and more expensive to feed.
WINNER: Canola oil. The stuff labeled "vegetable oil" is most often soybean oil, which is similar to canola oil in terms of fat and calories. But more of canola oil's fat grams come from good fats: It has nearly 50 percent more heart-healthy omega-3s and almost three times as many monounsaturated fatty acids, which have been shown to lower bad cholesterol.
WINNER: It's a draw. Carob can be slightly lower in fat, calories and sugar than semisweet chocolate, but the number of chips that end up in any given cookie isn't going to add up to a huge difference. Plus, each tablespoon of semisweet chocolate chips contains about one gram of fiber—some carob chips don't have any.
Our Expert: Takami Kim is a registered dietician with New York–Presbyterian Hospital's Department of Food and Nutrition Management.
(Photographs of Flour and Canola Oil: Marko Metzinger/Studio D., Raisins: David Murray/Getty Images, Carob Chips: Ben Goldstein/Studio D.)