Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday, and we all love gathering with family and friends around a lavish table set with colorful foods typically served on this special day. But did you know that turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberries, pumpkin, and Brussels sprouts are all SuperFoods?
Here’s to feeling a little less guilty about over-indulging on this foodie holiday, though it’s always best to eat in moderation. Cheers!
Turkey: Turkey breast is one of the leanest meat-protein sources and it’s also rich in SuperFood nutrients including niacin, selenium, zinc and vitamins B6 and B12. You may want to reconsider eating too much of the tasty skin if you’re avoiding fat and focus instead on the juicy white meat.
Sweet Potatoes: This delightful, starchy food is an excellent source of important carotenoids, which help protect us from free radicals, modulate our immune response, and enhance cell-to-cell communication.
The regular consumption of foods rich in carotenoids has been shown to decrease the risk of getting certain cancers, including lung, colon, bladder, cervical, breast and skin. In the landmark Nurses’ Health Study, women with the highest concentrations of carotenes in their regular diet had the lowest risk of breast cancer.
Carotenoids also play a major role in protecting the skin and eyes form the damaging effects of ultraviolet rays.
Cranberries: A study at Cornell University found that cranberries were the fruit richest in phenolics. Many phenolic compounds are attracting the attention of food and medical scientists because of their antioxidative, antiinflammatory, antimutagenic, and anticarcinogenic properties. They also boost cellular enzyme functions.
Fresh cranberries are harvested in the fall and are usually only available through December. Grab a few extra bags before they go out of season and freeze them. Even if it’s not Thanksgiving, you can enjoy them as a snack or cook them into rice for a tangy kick.
Pumpkin: This fruit (yes, it really is a fruit…) is extremely high in fiber and low in calories. It also contains an abundance of nutrients, including potassium, pantothenic acid, magnesium, vitamins C and E, and a very high amount of carotenoids.
For quick-fix recipes and side dishes, keep in mind that canned pumpkins are just as nutritious as fresh pumpkins.
Brussels Sprouts: Brussels sprouts fall into the family of cruciferous vegetables, which includes broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Cruciferous veggies give you energy and have antiviral and antibacterial effects that strengthen the immune system.
One recent study showed that only 10 grams a day of crucifers, like Brussels sprouts, can significantly reduce the risk of developing cancer. Another study showed that eating two servings of crucifers may result in as much as a 50 percent reduction.