Thanksgiving is here!
A day of indulgence, packed with calories from start to finish
A diet destroyer and gut buster
In spite of all the grief this holiday gets, the traditional Thanksgiving feast offers a great deal of health benefits. Staple items like turkey, potatoes, and stuffing all have their share of core nutritional values, so keep in mind that the holiday isn’t so unhealthy — as long as you treat it with some moderation!
Read on to learn the health benefits of 7 classic dishes on your Thanksgiving table.
We promise you’ll feel less guilty about indulging!
Although both white and dark turkey breast meats are packed with protein, nutritionists advise eaters to opt for the leaner white meat to shave off calories and fat content. A 4-ounce serving of white meat provides 32 grams of protein — that’s 65% of your recommended daily intake!
That same serving contains less than 12% of your recommended daily saturated fat intake. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data shows that a standard 4-ounce turkey breast contains 214 calories. Not bad, considering all the nutritional benefits it brings to the Thanksgiving table!
On their own, potatoes are about 110 calories a pop. They’re also great sources of vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, and pantothenic acid. USDA data shows that potatoes are also a source of health-promoting phytonutrients.
With the hundreds – if not thousands – of potato preparations that we see on Thanksgiving, we can’t honestly testify to the health benefits behind each and every buttery bite, so – as always – enjoy that salty, buttery, and sometimes cheesy dish in moderation!
3. Sweet Potatoes
Stated simply, sweet potatoes are potatoes’ healthier cousins. Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, vitamin B5, B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and, due to their orange color, are high in carotenoids. They’re free of fat, low in sodium, lower in calories than regular potatoes (there are 100 calories in each medium-size sweet potato) and a single sweet potato is packed with 120% of your recommended vitamin A intake for the day. Vitamin A promotes bone health and good vision. Vitamin B6 in sweet potatoes helps to promote cardiovascular health.
Stuffing doesn’t exactly come to mind when considering healthy dishes, but even this Thanksgiving favorite has one advantage: antioxidants. Science Daily reported on a study originally published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, which found that a cancer-fighting antioxidant called pronyl-lysine exists in high concentrations in bread crust.
Cranberries are well-known for their antioxidant properties as well! This classic Thanksgiving food has even more to offer. One cup of chopped cranberries contains 51 calories, 5.1 grams of fiber, and 15% of your recommended daily vitamin C intake, according to the USDA.
The antioxidants in these berries are known to help prevent urinary tract infections, as well as other common infections.
6. Green Beans
Whether you’re enjoying them on their own, seasoned, or in a full-on casserole, green beans are a wonderfully nutrient-packed Thanksgiving staple. One full cup of cooked green beans contains just 44 calories, providing you with 2.4 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. Green beans are fat-free and full of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. They also contain nutrients such as vitamin C and vitamin K.
Luckily for us, pumpkin — perhaps the most beloved ingredient of the season — is full of nutritious qualities. the USDA states that one cup of cooked and mashed pumpkin contains 49 calories and 3 grams of fiber. It also packs in more than 200% of your recommended daily vitamin A intake, plus about ⅓ of your recommended vitamin C intake.
The importance of key nutrients found in traditional Thanksgiving meals is often overshadowed by excess fat and calories. So remember, with moderation via portion control, we can still enjoy the holiday while maintaining a healthy diet!