Thanksgiving – it’s loaded with perks. Days off from work, time spent with friends and family, and a special meal that only comes once a year. And while it can certainly be a time to overindulge, if enjoyed in moderation and prepared correctly, your Thanksgiving meal can be loaded with valuable nutrients.
This bird is the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving dinner - and with leftovers, the days that follow. Cook it, carve it, and reap its many nutritional benefits.
- Turkey is loaded with trytophan, a sleep-inducing amino acid. Trytophan affects melatonin, the sleep hormone that regulates and resets your internal clock.
- Rich in potassium and loaded with zinc
- Lean turkey breasts fulfill more than half of most individual’s daily protein needs
- Niacin may help increase your HDL cholesterol, the good kind, while also helping to reduce your LDL cholesterol, the bad kind.
- An excellent source of of B12, which helps prevent the buildup of homocysteine, an amino acid which may decrease cognitive function
Click here for Dr. Oz-approved turkey recipes.
Substitute sweet potatoes for regular potatoes. Bake them or mash them, but just avoid dousing them in sugar or syrups to keep its rich nutritional value intact.
- Sweet pototoes are rich in beta-carotene which helps to build heart-healthy vitamin A
- Packed with vitamin C to keep your immune system strong, especially important during cold and flu season
- A good source of manganese, vitamin B6 and potassium
Click here for Dr. Oz-approved sweet potato recipes.
They're good for your heart, teeth, digestive system and overall health. New science proves that cranberries are one of the smartest foods you can eat. Don't resort to sugary canned cranberry sauces; make your own at home.
- Cranberries are a superfood, packed with antioxidants and flavonoids
- Excellent source of vitamin C and fiber
- Good source of manganese and copper
- Help prevent heart disease and cancer
- Packed with more disease-fighting nutrients than apples, strawberries, oranges and peaches
- Help reduce tooth decay and gum disease
- Posses anti-inflammatory properties
Click here to learn more about cranberries and get a Dr. Oz-approved cranberry recipe.
Balance the protein and starches of your Thanksgiving meal with the following foods. A diverse array of vegetables deserve a place on your plate. Feel free to go back for seconds. The benefits of a meal full of vegetables are many. These nutritional powerhouses harbor powerful antioxidants, can be digestive aids and potent cancer-fighters. Seasoning your vegetables with natural spices - instead of butters and salt - will help you conserve calories. By doubling your portion of vegetables, you're only adding an additional 100 calories to your dinner.
- Rich with cancer-fighting molecules embedded deep in the leaves
- Leafy greens such as kale and spinach are high in folate. Folate, a water-soluble B vitamin, reduces homocysteine which has been linked to Alzheimer's disease.
- Protect against cancer
- Look for cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale and brussels sprouts
- Brussels sprouts are also potent anti-agers rich in vitamin C, which helps build collagen and fight off free radicals.
- Artichokes contain 3 different cancer-fighting molecules
- Increase the bile flow in the liver, which helps with the digestion of high-fat meals, and may lower cholesterol
- One serving contains 10 grams of fiber
- Chockfull of cancer-fighting antioxidants
- Betalains, which give beets their rich red color, starve tumors and hinder cell division
- Adding a quarter cup of beets to your daily diet, about 3 or 4 beet slices, can reduce your kidney cancer risk.
There's plenty to munch on throughout the day. While cakes, pies and other baked goods tend to dominate, there are a few healthy alternatives you can enjoy, too.
- Walnuts, as well as other nuts, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties and are good for your joints, skin, vision, brain and heart health, and helps lower bad cholesterol levels. Eating a few before your meal can also help curb your appetite.
- Brazil nuts contain selenium, an antioxidant that fights the free radical damage that can cause cancer
- Cashews contain proanthocyanidins, a class of flavanols that actually starve tumors and prevent cancer cells from dividing.
- High in antioxidants
- Pack 14 grams of fiber per serving
- Wine reduces cholesterol and inflammation to minimize the risk of heart problems
- Red wine has polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that includes resveratrol, which protects cell membranes and has anti-inflammatory properties.
- The darker the wine, the better it is for you and your skin
- Antioxidants in red wine soak up damaging free radicals that play a role in aging and age-related diseases
- Coffee is high in antioxidants; Americans get most of their antioxidants from coffee
- Protects the brain. One study found that coffee can help keep the blood-brain barrier intact; this barrier acts as a coating, and protects the brain from unwanted materials and damaging elements, like harmful cholesterol.