Wednesday 22 Oct 2014

Information and opinions presented here do not always represent the views of the American Heart Association.

Ten ways to start fresh while ringing in the New Year

Published: 6:00 am CDT, December 30, 2013

Around the world, New Year’s traditions symbolize a fresh start and hope for health, prosperity and love. We’ve compiled this list of our favorite traditions and put a healthy spin on them. Wherever you are this New Year’s, we wish you a healthy, happy year!

1. Beans, beans they’re good for your heart…

In Brazil the lentil is believed to signify wealth, while black-eyed peas foretell good fortune in the South. Serve up some legumes for your own New Year’s dinner – they’re a great source of fiber – about 6 grams to 8 grams per half cup.

2. Eating any ring-shaped treat symbolizes “coming full circle” and leads to good fortune.

This year how about skipping the fritters served in Dutch homes and the oh-so-tempting donuts? Instead, substitute a small whole-wheat bagel with some fresh fruit.

3. In Spain, eating one grape for each of the upcoming 12 months of the New Year is expected to bring prosperity.

Fresh fruit is a good source of vitamins, minerals and fiber and it’s low in fat and calories.

4. Toasts are made with hot, spiced wine in Holland.

Whether you’re ringing in the year with wine or wassail, here’s the deal:  limiting high calorie and sugary drinks is the way to go for New Year’s Day – and the next 364 days.

5. In Scotland, coal, shortbread and silverware are exchanged for good luck.

Pass along the coal from your stocking, skip the shortbread to avoid coal in next year’s stocking and use that silverware to dig in to a nice New Year’s salad.

6. Gifts of gilded nuts or coins marked the start of the New Year in Rome.

Nuts are chock full of Omega 3’s, also known as the “good” fats, as well as fiber. And who wouldn’t like a little extra coin? Save those pennies for a celebration event when you reach your health goals.

7. In some villages in Egypt, New Year’s is a day for visiting friends, walking from house to house sharing good wishes and collecting people as they go. Ultimately, everyone ends up at the mayor’s house.

What a great way to encourage your friends and neighbors to engage in physical activity.

 8. In Northern Portugal children go caroling from home to home and are given treats and coins. They sing old songs, said to bring good luck.

Another community exercise plan only this time for healthy kids.

9. In Japan in December, various Bonenkai or “forget-the-year parties” are a great new beginning. Misunderstandings and grudges are forgiven and houses are scrubbed.

Putting old grudges and bad feelings aside can ease your mind. Studies show that reducing stress has great health benefits.

10. In Mexico, you’ll have good luck in love in the coming year by wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve.

This is a great way to get ready for Wear Red Day in February.