Dear Dr. McEver,
For Christmas, I have a Santa’s list of health questions. First, is eggnog with raw egg safe to drink?
Dr. McEver Prescribes
Raw, unpasteurized eggs can contain salmonella bacteria, a leading cause of food poisoning. Your safest option is a pasteurized, store-bought version of the holiday beverage. If homemade is a must, opt for a recipe that heats the egg to a safe temperature (160°F) or use pasteurized liquid eggs sold in a carton.
Are poinsettias actually poisonous?
While eating poinsettia leaves might cause nausea or vomiting, an analysis published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine found no fatalities among more than 20,000 cases of people who’d ingested or otherwise been exposed to the tropical plant. Another study in rats could not find a toxic amount even at levels equivalent to 500-600 leaves.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. Can being cold cause me to catch a cold?
Even when the weather gets chilly, you won’t catch a cold simply from being underdressed. You must be exposed to a virus. Cold and flu cases peak during winter months not due to low temperatures but largely because you’re more likely to spend time with people indoors, where germs can easily spread.
Can people really be allergic to Christmas trees, or are they just Grinches?
A 2011 study published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology found 53 kinds of mold on 28 samples of Christmas trees. Of those, 70% were potentially harmful and could trigger sneezing, wheezing and coughing.
St. Nick deserves a treat. I know cookies are in the naughty category, but any suggestions for ones I can bake (or buy) that are at least healthy-ish?
Oatmeal can provide a healthy base for a sweet treat, and swap out all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour. You might also try reducing the sugar in recipes and the simplest healthy hack of all: make smaller cookies!
Do you have a health query for Dr. McEver? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and your question may be answered in a future column!