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Nuts or olives? Nutritionists give advice

Ah, the holidays! Your heart is filled with cheer and your cup runneth over with joy to the world. And, unfortunately, so does your hors d'oeuvre plate. The month of December can feel like a 31-day snackathon.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with eating, drinking and being merry, but revelers should �strike a balance between health and enjoyment,� says Mary Ryan, a registered dietitian based in Jackson Hole, Wyo. �Decide what you really want to taste, then ignore the rest.�

Real Simple asked nutritionists to weigh in on perennial party-food dilemmas. Take their cues, grab a glass of Champagne (a better choice than a cocktail), and toast a happy � and healthy � New Year.

Mixed nuts or olives?:

The better choice: Olives. Like olive oil, olives are high in monounsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol. They're also low in calories. Each olive has only about five calories and less than a gram of fat, while one pecan, for example, has almost 14 calories and nearly 2 grams of fat. And though you can toss back numerous nuts almost too easily, olives often require a little more work. When you're left with a plateful of pits, you'll know exactly how many you've put away. But� Nuts are also high in monounsaturated fats, and they're a good source of fiber and arginine, an amino acid that helps keep blood vessels relaxed and open.


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