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Wealth, Health & Happiness

Can you increase your chances of wealth and health by what you eat on New Year’s Day?  WakeMed Dietitian Diana Koenning took a look at New Year’s food traditions celebrated by different cultures and believes that while you may not be able to guarantee wealth by your dietary choices, you can certainly impact your health.

Diana says, “Most New Year’s traditions, including eating greens, legumes, fish and grapes, are actually quite healthy if they are prepared using lean meats and low-fat preparations.”

Here are some tips Diana provided to help us all start out the New Year right.

Hoppin John

Hoppin John (a mixture of black eyed peas and vegetables) – Hoppin John is fabulous. If your recipe calls for meat, be sure to use a leaner cut instead of fatty pieces of ham.  Lower salt ham would even be better. Adding more peppers, onions, or zucchini is also a great idea.

Black Eyed Peas or Lentils

Peas and beans are rich in soluble fiber that helps to lower cholesterol.  Instead of meat, try cooking them with olive oil to achieve the same texture and remember to keep the portions in control. And, if you garnish your bean dishes with condiments like mayonnaise or sour cream, make sure to use the lower fat versions.

Cabbage, Kale, Collards

Any kind of greens are a good thing.  Just remember to choose the leaner cuts of meat or better yet try to cook a vegetarian version this year.  Also, if you traditionally eat your cabbage in the form of sauerkraut like the Pennsylvania Dutch, make sure to limit portions due to high sodium content.  A little sauerkraut should go a long way.  Lastly, if you are on Coumandin, watch portion sizes of greens because they are high in vitamin K.


In many cultures, it is traditional to consume pork on New Year’s Day.  There are many nice lean cuts of pork – choose loin cuts over the fattier rib or rump.  Also, make sure to pair your pork with some nice vegetables.  And remember, sausages are really just little balls of fat, so be sure to limit portion sizes.


Fish is fabulous because it has Omega 3 fatty acids, it is low in saturated fat and is a lean protein.  Fish highest in Omega 3s include salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, sardines and anchovies.


This fruit’s bright color signals that it is rich in antioxidants.  Eating the seeds is better than drinking the juice because you will get all of the good fiber in the fruit as well.

Red Grapes

Grapes are a terrific source of resveratrol, which is a heart-protective antioxidant and youth enhancer. Eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight is just fine but remember to watch your portion size.


Different ethnic groups or cultures have certain sweets that are very near and dear.  Don’t feel that you have to cut these out of your diet, but it is best to enjoy them as small treats close to the end of the meal.


A traditional part of the Mexican New Year’s festivities is Menudo, a soup made from tripe, pig trotters and hominy.  Tripe is a great lean protein, but it is still a good idea to maximize the number of vegetables in this soup, regulate salt content, and watch portion sizes.