Thanksgiving Feast Health Benefits

thanksgiving-turkey-dinner

Most of the reason people tend to gain weight around the holidays has more to do with eating outrageous portion sizes, rather than the food itself.  Common Thanksgiving foods actually have significant nutritional value and health benefits!

Turkey

Turkey is one of the most nutritious kinds of lean meat you can eat, with even less fat and calories than chicken.  If you stick with the skinless, white meat, a 3-ounce serving packs 25g of protein, only 3g of fat and less than 1g of saturated fat.  While turkey is low in fat and cholesterol, it also provides nearly 50% of the RDA for folic acid and is an excellent source of the amino acid Arginine.  Arginine is an essential building block for proteins, which also plays a role in cell division, wound healing, immune function, and hormone function. 

Cranberry Sauce 

Cranberries are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, which boost your immune system, as well as a good source of dietary fiber and manganese.  They are also loaded with antioxidants that help fight cell damage and improve cardiovascular function. Cranberries are unique in that they contain proanthocyanidins, which is a compound that provides antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.  In addition, research shows that cranberries provide heart health benefits and may keep us mentally sharper as we age.

Green Bean Casserole

Green beans provide vitamins A, C, and K, plus iron, fiber, beta-carotene, lutein and B vitamins.

Sweet Potatoes 

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of A and C vitamins, beta-carotene, potassium, and fiber.  A half-cup serving of sweet potatoes provides 330% of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin A.  The vitamin A and C found in sweet potatoes are anti-inflammatory, and the beta-carotene and vitamin C work together to rid the body of cancer-friendly free radicals.

Mashed Potatoes 

Potatoes are a very healthy, low calorie, high fiber food with properties that fight cardiovascular disease and cancer.  They are also a great source of Vitamin C, B6, copper, potassium, manganese, iron and dietary fiber. Potatoes actually have more potassium than a banana.  To make your mash a little healthier, try using chicken broth instead of butter, and skim milk instead of cream.  

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin is a low fat, low calorie food that is high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Zinc and Potassium.  1/8th of a 9” pumpkin pie packs 4.2g of fiber and 288mg of potassium, which helps counteract the high levels of sodium in a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Apple Pie

Apples are packed with vitamins A and C and the inflammation fighting phytochemical, quercetin.

Wine

A 5oz glass of wine is packed with the antioxidant resveratrol, which is know for reducing bad cholesterol and preventing blood clots. 

During this holiday do not forget about the actual act of “thanks-giving.”

Studies have shown that gratitude has incredible positive effects on health and well-being.  Gratitude is associated with improved mood, sense of well-being, interpersonal relationships, physical health, cardiovascular health, immune function, and longevity.  Research also has been showing gratitude to be associated with reduced blood pressure, stress, and depression.

 

 

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About Gina
Gina Consalvo-Hassick, MA, RD, LDN, CDE, NCC is a registered dietitian and is actively involved in various food and nutrition communities. She has counseled and assessed a wide range of patients and has experience in outpatient, inpatient, and consulting. Areas of specialization include weight management, eating disorders, and wellness nutrition.
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Gina Hassick,
MA, RD, LDN, CDE, NCC

(908) 827-1482
gina@eatwellwithgina.com

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Easton, PA 18042