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Healthy Food Ideas for a Holiday Gift Basket

Antioxidant-rich Indulgences

OK, chocolate will never be healthy-healthy, but this is holiday time, and chocolate is a joy, and dark chocolate does have something truly healthy going for it: flavanols.

Flavanols are phytochemicals, plant-derived substances with antioxidant properties. (Vitamin C and beta carotene are phytochemicals, too.) It's the cocoa itself that contains the flavanols, which is why dark chocolate, not milk chocolate, is healthy in small doses: The dark version has a lot more cocoa in it.

A small supply of dark chocolate isn't the only way to include some vice without completely blowing the health angle. Red wine and espresso beans, too, are antioxidant-heavy and have health benefits when consumed in moderation [source: Purcell].

Wine, chocolate, popcorn, nuts, fruits, cookies ... It's a gift basket that says "I'm feeling festive," not "I'm concerned with your health." Not that an eye toward health is ever a bad thing, but you probably don't want to be the one giving out toothbrushes on Halloween or sugar-free cupcakes at the birthday party, so to speak -- especially when it's so easy to give good food and good health. You can just be the one whose beautiful, delicious baskets don't make everybody feel bloated and tired after the holidays.

For more information on holiday gifts, healthy eating and related topics, check out the links on the next page.