Thanks to the folk story Hansel and Gretel, we all are familiar with gingerbread houses. The two famously stumbled upon an edible candy house on their way back home, which gave people the idea of making gingerbread houses to celebrate Christmas! This is the time of the year all bakeries offer some mouth-watering, crunchy gingerbread cookies. But is it entirely safe to indulge in gingerbread cookies and goodies? How many calories are there in a gingerbread cookie? How much is too much? If you have been wondering about the benefits of gingerbread, scroll down to know everything about this Christmas delight.
Health Shots reached out to Juily Wagle, ISSA Certified Nutritionist, to know all about gingerbread and how you can give it a healthy twist.
What is gingerbread?
Gingerbread in typically a baked goodie which contains the goodness of ginger as well as spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and even anise. The sweet element is added through brown sugar or sometimes honey to make it healthier. Gingerbread cakes, cookies and even candy houses continue to be made as part of Christmas traditions.
But is gingerbread good for health?
Wagle shares that while gingerbread cookies are people’s favourite during Christmas, it is important to remember that it contains a considerable amount of fat and sugar and need to be consumed in moderation. Having said that, gingerbread cookies contain lots of healthy spices, such as cloves, cinnamon, and ginger, she adds.
Benefits of gingerbread
Here are some reasons why having gingerbread goodies in moderation may not be such a bad idea after all!
- Aids digestion and relieve heartburnAccording to Wagle, “Gingerbread gets its warm, slight spiciness from the cloves, a nutritious herb that is very delicious and has potent anti-inflammatory qualities.”
- Promotes healthy bonesDue to its high manganese content, gingerbread can lower your chance of developing arthritis and aid in managing the body’s bone-repair enzymes, explains the expert.
- Boosts energyGingerbread cookies can offer a great boost of iron. Iron is essential for the creation of energy and promotes tissue health by assisting red blood cells in delivering oxygen to your tissues, Wagle adds.
- Improves blood cells productionThe expert points out that gingerbread is high in niacin and folate, which are healthy nutrients. “Niacin supports normal cell growth, regulates gene activity, and facilitates cell-to-cell communication. Additionally, folate supports proper cell proliferation and the generation of red blood cells.
- Reduces pain
Since it is high in anti-inflammatory properties, ginger can help decrease the chances of blood clotting. Along with ginger, cinnamon in gingerbread cookies makes them a great pain reliever. Wagle adds that consuming gingerbread cookies may even relieve headaches and menstrual cramps. It is also good for people with osteoarthritis and type-2 diabetes if eaten in moderation.
“Pregnancy needs an excellent nutrient intake. A pregnant mother can have ginger cookies to relieve the consistent nauseating feeling,” adds the expert.
Side effects of having too many gingerbread cookies
The health benefits of ginger and the other spices included in these cookies are endless. However, one should not forget that they are also loaded with sugar and fat!
Gingerbread cookies are so scrumptious that you find it difficult to stop eating them. If that’s the case, you must know that the fat in gingerbread cookies is calorie dense so you need to be mindful of eating them, says the expert. “It is also very easy to overeat these cookies due to their fat and sugar content.”
Gingerbread cookies, or any cookies for that matter contain saturated fat, which can negatively affect your blood cholesterol levels, and put you at risk of cardiovascular disease if not consumed in moderation. She also adds that the high amount of sugar can increase the level of acidity in your mouth, which gradually dissolves the enamel covering your teeth and contributes to tooth decay.
As we all know that the combination of high sugar, fat, and calories are some of the leading causes of obesity. Consuming these cookies in large amounts can also backfire by causing stomach discomfort due to all the sugar and molasses.
How to make gingerbread cookies healthier?
Baker and cake artist Archana Mascarenhas says, “You can make certain swaps that will keep the taste intact but lower the unhealthy bar on your favourite Christmas snack.” She shares some ways to make your gingerbread cookies healthier:
- Use brown sugar or coconut sugar instead of regular white sugar can help boost iron.
- Add spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg as they are great antioxidants.
- Almond flour instead of regular flour can be a great boost of protein, making you feel more satiated and helping you avoid overeating.
- Swap butter with coconut oil.
- You could even add some chopped nuts and seeds.
- Also, if you’re shopping for gingerbread cookies, you could look for whole-wheat white flour or buckwheat flour versions.