Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to come together. It’s also a time in which extra pounds sneak up on us.
According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), we consume an average of 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat during the course of a Thanksgiving meal. If you include earlier snacks you could consume over 4,500 calories by the end of Thanksgiving Day. But it’s not all bad news. Many Thanksgiving staples have nutrients that can do a body good.
Listed below some Thanksgiving staples and their nutritional value.
- Corn. This native vegetable of the Americas was a part of the first Thanksgiving meal. One ear of corn contains 10 percent of our daily fiber needs. It’s a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B, folate, and zeaxanthin, which reduces the risk of cancer.
- Cranberries. They not only make a great sauce, they were also used for dyes and medicines by Native Americans. One cup contains 20 percent of our daily manganese needs. They have vitamin C, vitamin K, and fiber, and they are great brain boosters, protecting us against memory loss.
- Green Beans. Skip the 1950’s green bean casserole, and go straight to the source. One cup contains 20 percent of our daily vitamin K needs and contains vitamin A and fiber. Green beans improve bone health and prevent osteoporosis.
- Pumpkins. Pumpkin pie (a Thanksgiving and American classic) originates from 17th century France. One cup of pumpkin contains 19 percent of our daily vitamin C needs. They’re also a good source of vitamin A, potassium, and riboflavin. They also have enzymes that can “cleanse the skin.”
- Sweet Potatoes. Baked sweet potatoes and sweet potato pie are Thanksgiving favorites. One cup of sweet potatoes has 769 percent of our daily vitamin A needs, which is superb for healthy eyes. They also have manganese, potassium, and vitamin B6.
- Turkey. What’s Thanksgiving without the turkey (or at least a turkey substitute)? Turkey is not only a leaner choice compared to other meats, it’s also low in saturated fat and a good source of protein and riboflavin.
Looking For Healthier Substitutes?
If you’re looking for Thanksgiving substitutes consider replacing butter in recipes with applesauce or pureed plums. With stuffing, consider replacing white bread with whole-wheat. For healthy mac-and-cheese, consider using low-fat milk, low-fat cheese, and whole wheat pasta. For leaner gravy, consider making “broth-based or vegetarian gravy.”