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Of all holiday traditions that involve food, eggnog may be the most beloved. While the drink’s origins are still being debated, it is believed that what we know as eggnog is inspired by a medieval European drink called “posset.” Since the drink migrated from Europe, multiple variations have been created, gaining popularity because of its cozy creaminess and rich flavor.

The classic eggnog today is a dairy-based punch. Most recipes mix heavy cream, sugar, milk, egg whites, and raw egg yolks. Distilled spirits are added for the adults, and the eggnog is served chilled. Spices can also be used, and the most popular eggnog spices are nutmeg and cinnamon. So it’s no surprise that this combination is delicious and has become a holiday staple for many people. As a result, we drink more than 135 million pounds of eggnog per year! But does eggnog come with a health risk? Read on to find out!

What’s Wrong with My Eggnog?

The biggest potential problem from standard eggnog is food poisoning from raw eggs. In the words of Dr. James Rodgers, “Eggnog made with raw, unpasteurized eggs can contain salmonella, a leading cause of food poisoning.” Salmonella causes around one million foodborne illnesses in the United States each year. Fortunately, there are several precautions you can take to avoid food poisoning.

Before indulging, it’s vital to be aware of traditional eggnog’s high saturated fat and sugar content. As Dr. Eudene Harry says, “These are two of the things that we are most often counseled to limit in our diet, due to concerns about the increased risk of chronic illness such as diabetes and heart disease,” which explains why eggnog is considered a significant contributor to holiday weight gain.

The eggnog’s cholesterol content is also significant. Dr. Melynda Barnes puts it realistically  when she says, “The heavy cream, eggs, and sugar contribute to store-bought eggnog having 350 calories and 149 mg of cholesterol. To put that in perspective, that’s as much cholesterol as two double cheeseburgers, two fries, and two soft drinks.” Fortunately, part of the history of eggnog is altering the recipe as people see fit, making this exquisite drink healthier for those whose cholesterol levels are not too permissive.

How Can I Make Eggnog Healthier?

First, be sure that you’re avoiding food poisoning, something easily achievable in two ways. The first is to buy eggnog from the grocery store. Eggnog sold in stores is usually pasteurized, but check the label to be sure. Your second option is to make your own eggnog, using either liquid eggs that have already been pasteurized or raw eggs. If you use raw eggs, avoid food poisoning by heating them to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the other health consequences of eggnog—the sugar and cholesterol we talked about earlier—the best switch you can make is using milk alternatives instead of heavy cream. Almond milk, skim milk, and coconut milk are all excellent options. Try using honey or maple syrup instead to cut down on the sugar content of your eggnog. Another option is to remove sugar altogether and create flavor with eggnog spices! The most popular options are nutmeg and cinnamon, which will benefit the eggnog’s flavor and your health.

When we consider the two popular spices used in eggnog, there can be health benefits that will encourage making your drink healthier! Nutmeg contains powerful antioxidants that prevent cellular damage. It also contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, so this addition to your eggnog could lead you to feel healthier! Studies have also suggested that the eggnog spice may improve your mood, heart health, and blood sugar levels.

But don’t forget cinnamon! This popular eggnog spice also brings health advantages. Many of these benefits are from the compound cinnamaldehyde, which gives cinnamon its unique flavor and scent. Like nutmeg, cinnamon is also an eggnog spice that contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory qualities. Your body’s ability to repair tissues and fight infection could be improved by adding cinnamon to your diet. In addition, cinnamon can decrease insulin resistance, which is when the insulin hormone will be able to accomplish more in your body such as regulating your metabolism, your energy levels, and your blood sugar.

A Parting Reminder

We hope you feel inspired to enjoy some eggnog this holiday season in a healthier way! It can be bad for you in excessive amounts and with the wrong ingredients, but if you are aware of the risks and have the chance to make a health-conscious version of this classic drink, then there’s nothing to worry about. In addition to its comforting and nostalgic eggnog flavor, eggnog spices like cinnamon and nutmeg will help you take control of your hormonal and heart health. Stay tuned to Top Doctor Magazine for more!

Nathan Pipkin
Nathan Pipkin