Cracking the shell on eggnog

Decorating the tree, singing Christmas carols and sipping eggnog by the fire are all beloved holiday traditions, but one of these may just be bad for your health.

Eggnog is a cream and egg based drink made with a variety of spirits, most commonly rum or brandy, and is said to have originated from a medieval drink. In Britain it was considered a drink for the wealthy. It became a popular winter drink because the warm milk and egg beverage was seasoned with pricey spices such as ground nutmeg and cinnamon and expensive liquors like brandy and sherry to keep it from spoiling.1 The "nog" part of its name may stem from the word “noggin,” a Middle English term for a small, carved wooden mug used to serve alcohol.2

Eggnog’s long history of being a rich, luxurious drink makes it all the more enjoyable during the holidays but sometimes too much of a good thing can lead to a few unwanted pounds. As with many holiday treats, there can be some hidden calories that you don’t realize until it’s too late.

Eggnog has always been a fatty drink suspect. It's too thick and delicious to be healthy. Just one cup of store-bought eggnog has 350 calories and 149 mg of cholesterol. That's as much cholesterol as in two double cheeseburgers, two fries, and two soft drinks. There's a reason this treat is just for the holidays. It can be one of the biggest reasons for holiday weight gain. 3

If you decide to make your own eggnog, be sure to use pasteurized eggs because the old argument of "the booze will kill the germs," doesn’t ensure safety. The FDA advises that this strategy isn't fool proof and if precautions aren’t taken, salmonella is a likely possibility. 2

The holiday season is a great time to enjoy the drinks and desserts you wait all year for, but all things in moderation otherwise you’ll be carrying those treats with you into the new year.

Last updated December 2013