Pre-Thanksgiving Action Plan: Healthy Foods

Regardless of what you do with the calorie-slashing and exercise action plans, there are still major nutrition benefits to be grateful about at your Thanksgiving table.  This particular holiday’s foods are among the healthiest types–most are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.  Read on to learn about some unexpected benefits in popular and traditional foods.

Get a load of vitamin A. Pumpkin pie and sweet potatoes are high in vitamin C and particularly, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene).  Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant that works to eliminate free radicals, which are chemicals that damage cells and are associated with the development of conditions like atherosclerosis, diabetic heart disease and colon cancer.

A little cranberry goes a long way. Sure cranberries go well as a garnish for the turkey, but their ability to help prevent and treat urinary tract infections is even better!  They may also promote gastrointestinal and oral health, prevent the formation of kidney stones, lower LDL and raise HDL (good) cholesterol, and help prevent the risk of certain cancers.  Great berry.

Chestnuts and walnuts and almonds oh my. You might think it is an oxymoron that a high-fat food is good for your health – but it’s the good kind that our bodies need!  These nuts are all high in monounsaturated fats, the same type of health-promoting fats found in olive oil, which have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Walnuts in particular are high in alpha-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid, protective to the heart and circulation. Almonds are a very good source of manganese and copper, trace minerals that protects your cells from free-radical damage, maintains normal blood sugar levels, and helps synthesize fatty acids and cholesterol, to name a few.  Chestnuts are an excellent source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium (which helps your muscles and nerves function properly) and folate, which is needed for protein synthesis in all cells.

Turkey (obviously). No one needs to explain why Turkey isn’t just for Thanksgiving, but here are some health benefits: a four-ounce serving of white turkey meat provides 65.1 percent of the daily value for protein, without being loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol.  Turkey is also a good source of the trace mineral selenium, great for immune function, and high in niacin and vitamin B6, another cancer-protective nutrient.

Enjoying the bounty of foods available at your table is a great idea, and hopefully it will not be at the expense of your pant button popping off.

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