During Thanksgiving, many people abandon all notions of health. A full meal of turkey, rolls and pie can’t be healthy, can it? In fact, you can have a healthy thanksgiving dinner. It is just a matter of making the difference between what’s good for you and what is not.
Believe it or not, you can have a sauce and pie for dinner if you understand the health aspects.
When you settle the debate about store-bought and homemade cranberries, your body will reap the benefits. Here are some common Thanksgiving foods that affect your health positively or negatively.
Canned stuffing is the worst
Although canned stuffing saves time, it has a nutritional cost. According to dietitian and nutritionist Elizabeth Huggins, canned stuffing is awfully high in sodium. “The fresh, savoury flavour is often dominated by the salty taste,” adds the Hilton Head Health nutritionist.
Many store-bought fillings contain “enriched wheat flour”. This flour undergoes a bleaching process that deprives it of any nutritional value. In addition, it adds more calories than whole wheat flour. If you’re a stuffing enthusiast, you may want to take the time to make a homemade low-sodium stuffing.
Canned cranberry sauce is objectively worse
The debate over canned or homemade cranberry sauce has been raging for decades. But in terms of health, there is no doubt that canned is worse. Cranberries are very acidic; they have the same pH as lemons. To make the sauce sweet, companies add a lot of sugar – more than six teaspoons in 1/4 cup!
Although the serving size of canned cranberry sauce is 1/4 cup, most people eat more. Only one cranberry sauce cup contains 40 mg of sodium and 44o calories. In addition, processing removes cranberries from their fiber, destroying most of the nutritional value.
Here’s a better alternative.
Make your own cranberry sauce
Homemade cranberry sauce is by far the healthiest option you can opt for. As you are sure, it contains fresh cranberries with all its healthy fiber, vitamin and antioxidant.
According to a 2019 review by Clinical Nutrition, cranberries regulate blood pressure and increase healthy cholesterol. Researchers believe cranberries may also help prevent heart disease.
Because fresh cranberry sauce is not processed, cranberries retain their nutritional value. Homemade sauces guarantee less sodium than canned foods. Add juice or honey to your cranberry dish if you want to replace some of the sugar.
Sauce is good in moderation
No Thanksgiving table is without sauce. This delicious sauce has been given a bad reputation for being high in fat. The reality is that the sauce does not contain a lot of fat. A half cup of sauce contains only 2.5 grams of fat, with no trans fat. A two tablespoon serving reduces this to 0.8 grams of fat.
That said, the sauce contains a lot of sodium. One cup of sauce consumes 42% of your recommended daily sodium. Even if you don’t have a full cup, the sauce will contain more sodium. Limit your sauce intake and you’ll be in the clear.
Pecan pie is the least healthy dessert.
Pecan pie is least healthy dessert option you can opt for. While pecans have many health benefits, more does not make them better. The USDA recommends eating one ounce of nuts per day, which is equivalent to 15 pecan halves with 196 calories. Meanwhile, one eighth of pecan pie contains more than 500 calories.
The sweet potato casserole is essentially a dessert.
Sweet potatoes are healthy, right? Not when they’re covered in butter, brown sugar and marshmallows. On average, sweet potato casseroles contain 19 grams of sugar, 45 grams of carbohydrates and over 10 grams of fat.
Of course, there are ways to make a sweet potato casserole less like a dessert. Because sweet potatoes are naturally sweet, you don’t need to add as much sugar. Replace brown sugar and butter with honey and add dried fruit for a healthier texture and side dish.
Roasted sweet potatoes are a much better choice.
Roasted sweet potatoes are much healthier than sweet potato casseroles. Without all the sugar and fat, you will reap all the benefits of sweet potatoes. One cup provides 400% of the daily recommended vitamin A and almost 50% of vitamin C. It also provides up to 30% of potassium and B vitamins.
Although rich in carbohydrates, sweet potatoes help you lose weight. Sweet potatoes contain resistant starch which, according to BMC Nutrition and Metabolism, increases fat burning by 30%. Dress up your potatoes with a little maple syrup and spices and you’ll have a delicious and healthy side dish.
Mashed potatoes are (potentially) the worst
Despite being a basic Thanksgiving dish, mashed potatoes are less healthy than other potato dishes. Blame the supplements: whole milk, butter and margarine. One cup of mashed potatoes contains nine grams of fat and 237 calories. And that’s before you add sauce.
There are benefits to mashed potatoes. They provide a small amount of fibre and protein. Potatoes alone provide potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B, magnesium and iron. If you cook mashed potatoes without butter or margarine, you will remove eight grams of fat. Moderate your portions and your body will enjoy it.
Either stir-fry the macaroni and cheese or change it.
During Thanksgiving, macaroni and cheese is usually topped with breadcrumbs and bacon. These additions only make the dish less healthy. This dish can easily reach over 1000 calorie when piling cheese, whole milk and butter.
Canned versions easily contain over 700 mg of sodium and 20% of your recommended daily fat.
Fortunately, you can cook a healthier version of macaroni and cheese for Thanksgiving. Choose whole grain noodles with smaller amounts of tasty cheeses like Jack and Cheddar. Avoid breadcrumbs and bacon, and opt instead for cauliflower, butternut squash or jalapeños.
Enjoy your turkey!
Good news: the Thanksgiving turkey is approved for health! Turkey is lean, high in protein and with less fat and calories. It also provides half of your recommended daily selenium, an antioxidant that helps your thyroid hormone metabolism. In addition, turkey provides phosphorus and B vitamins.
Dark meat is rich with vitamins than white meat, but also contains more fat and calories. To eat less fat, remove the skin. And it goes without saying that roasted turkey is much healthier than fried turkey. Add fresh herbs and olive oil for flavour.
Don’t eat sodium-filled glazed ham.
Glazed ham appears as a part of thanksgiving table, although it is not a tradition for many families. The ham itself is lean, but the glaze adds much more fat and sodium. Common recipes for glazed ham recommend one pound per person. This serving contains 44 grams of fat, 760 calories and 150% of your recommended daily sodium.
In terms of sodium, reducing your serving size does not help much. According to the USDA, one ounce of ham contains 210 mg of sodium, so five ounces consume two-thirds of your daily sodium.
Choose your rolls wisely
Buns are not inherently unhealthy. Depending on the type of throw you get, throws can be a positive or negative addition to your health. Whole grain rolls are a healthier option you should opt for. According to Megan Ware, R.D.N., L.D., white rolls remove most vitamins and fiber during processing.
Whole grain rolls has vitamins, protein and fiber, hence you should definitely add it to your meal. The American Heart Association mentioned that whole grains provide, magnesium, iron, selenium and B vitamins. An average whole-wheat roll (store-bought) provides three grams of protein and 90 calories. Overall, whole-wheat rolls are a much better choice than white rolls.