You already know not to eat yourself into a stupor on Thanksgiving Day, and you’ve probably guessed that the mashed potatoes erupting with a lava flow of butter aren’t the best thing to ask for seconds and thirds of. However, believe it or not, you’ll probably find some really healthy foods on that overloaded table; those are the things your plate should be filled with. While many of the ingredients of traditional Thanksgiving feasts are good for you, the way they are prepared often makes them less so. Many holiday favorites have a lot of added sugar, fat, and salt.
Consider these healthy options on Thanksgiving:
- Cranberries are packed with antioxidants that help prevent cancer and many chronic degenerative diseases. They can help strengthen your immune system, lower blood pressure, and ward off urinary tract infections. Unfortunately, cranberry sauce is one of the prime candidates for sugar overload. Cut down the sugar and add some orange juice, tangy orange zest, chopped apple bits, or raisins. Try flavoring it with cinnamon, cloves, and a small amount of brown sugar.
- Sweet potatoes or yams are good candidates for inclusion in your diet more often. They’ve got plenty of fiber, potassium, and antioxidants. A serving contains more than your daily requirement of vitamin A. Just stop before you slather the marshmallows on top. Try roasting them, brushed with olive oil, perhaps with some other fall vegetables like squash and onions. Toss in a sprig of rosemary or some chopped fresh ginger for extra flavor.
- What about turkey? It’s an excellent source of protein, and it contains minerals like iron, zinc, and potassium. That tryptophan that you’ve heard makes you sleepy after a big meal can also boost your immune system. If you don’t eat the skin, turkey is also low in fat.
- Pumpkin pie and other traditional desserts tend to be high in calories, although if they are made with healthy ingredients they’re not bad for you. Pumpkin has fiber and lots of vitamin A and C. Since most of the calories and fat are in the crust, try a pumpkin pie without a crust this year.
- Above all, don’t eat like you won’t have another meal for a week. Save some for later. And instead of falling into a food coma, go for a brisk walk!
Have a healthy, safe, and happy Thanksgiving from Dr. Shawn Tsuda!