Home Health & Wellness Don’t Get Hot and Cross About Traditional Easter Buns – Easter Treats Can Be Good for You

Don’t Get Hot and Cross About Traditional Easter Buns – Easter Treats Can Be Good for You

Published: Last updated:
Reading Time: 3 minutes

For centuries, Easter has been associated with appealing foods. Coming at the end of Lent, a period when many people fasted, it was no wonder people looked forward to tasty spring treats. The good news is that many of the “naughty but nice” delights we love at Easter may be better for you than you think, says a leading health expert.

Dr Avinash Hari Narayanan (MBChB), clinical lead at London Medical Laboratory, says: “Easter is full of temptations, from traditional cakes and buns to chocolate eggs. If you gave up chocolate or desserts for Lent this year, then the good news is that you don’t need to feel guilty about indulging in them at Easter. Some of these seasonal treats may even be surprisingly good for you.

Dark chocolate Easter eggs

Cocoa beans, the main ingredient of chocolate, contain natural, beneficial plant compounds called polyphenols. These have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Polyphenols, such as flavonoids, stimulate the body to produce nitrous oxide in the blood, helping to relax blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. Eating chocolate at least once a week is linked with an 8% reduced risk of heart disease, according to research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Chocolate eggs may even lead to a healthier heart. The research found that chocolate contains heart-healthy nutrients that may reduce inflammation and improve the amount of good cholesterol in the body. That’s backed up by a fascinating review of studies in the British Medical Journal. It found that those people who ate the most chocolate were 37% less likely to have coronary heart disease than people who ate the least chocolate. It’s thought that the effects of chocolate on the circulatory system – opening the blood vessels and reducing inflammation – can help keep our hearts healthy and ward off heart disease.

Hot cross buns

These traditional baked goods can be a good source of fibre and complex carbohydrates. While an average bun contains around 230 calories, there are healthier types. Good-quality, sourdough hot cross buns, purchased from health food shops and local grocery stores, contain healthier ingredients such as sultanas, currants and apricots and aren’t filled with processed additives and preservatives.

If you enjoy eating your bun with butter, try substituting a spread with added plant stanols that can actually reduce total and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Stanols are difficult to come by in a normal diet but fortified foods such as spreads can help you reach the amount of sterols and stanols needed to help lower your cholesterol, says the British Dietetic Association.

Simnel cake

Simnel cake is a traditional fruitcake that often features layers of almond paste or marzipan. The good news is that it has a high ratio of fruits to flour and, hence, is packed with nutrients. Avoid long shelf-life cakes with glazed and candied fruits and, instead, choose versions with naturally sweetened and dried fruits.

If you are baking your own Simnel cake, there are recipes available that cut out the butter, substitute white flour with wholemeal flour, and slash the amount of refined sugar. Some even make use of fresh fruits rather than dried ones.

Often, Simnel cake has 11 marzipan balls on top, one for each of the Apostles but with the 12th, representing Judas, removed. You may want to go further and drop the remaining 11 for a healthier slice.

Of course, the key to healthy eating is moderation. Eating our favourite delights should be a special event, not an everyday occurrence. Food with high sugar and fat content is the leading cause of obesity, which is a contributing factor in many conditions. These range from high blood pressure and diabetes to kidney disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke. The best way to manage potential risks from obesity is by regularly monitoring biometrics such as weight, body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. You can supplement these measures with regular blood tests.

A heart health profile blood test will tell you how well your heart is functioning. London Medical Laboratory’s simple, finger-prick blood test indicates risks to heart health and includes a full cholesterol profile as well as testing for inflammation. It also tests for diabetes, showing how well the body is controlling blood sugar.

The heart health profile test can be taken at home through the post or at one of the many drop-in clinics that offer these tests across London and nationwide in over 120 selected pharmacies and health stores.

© Copyright 2014–2034 Psychreg Ltd