7 Surprising Health Benefits of Thanksgiving Staples

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thevaultdfw/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thevaultdfw/

Thanksgiving is only a few days away, which means it’s almost time to partake in the most anticipated meal of the year. But while the calories that go into this meal may be the most stressful part of this holiday — just relax! As long as you’re watching your portions, you can reap the benefits from some of your favorite dishes without doing too much harm to your waistline. Here are seven surprisingly health benefits of Thanksgiving staples.

1. Turkey

Turkey is considered the ultimate Thanksgiving staple on many tables across the nation. But this main course is more than just delicious — it’s high in protein, low in fat (the white meat that is), and contains the amino acid L-tryptophan. Ever wonder why you’re so tired after Thanksgiving dinner? That’s were L-tryptophan comes in. This amino acid not only makes you sleepy, but also helps regulate your mood and lower cholesterol.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jpwbee/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jpwbee/

2. Mashed Potatoes

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving with out this tasty side dish. As long as you’re not going overboard, mashed potatoes are good choice with plenty of health benefits. Spuds are high in potassium which can help reduce the water weight following the Thanksgiving meal. Potatoes are also loaded with Vitamin C, folate, and are rich is Vitamin B.

yams, sweet potato, food

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3. Yam Casserole

Yam casserole is a sweet side dish that is a favorite indulgence of many on Thanksgiving. The good news is, yams are high in Vitamin A, loaded with fiber, and are even full of Vitamin C. Yams also contains antioxidants that can help lower your risk of heart disease and help regulate blood sugar.

cranberry sauce, food

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4. Cranberry Sauce

The perfect companion to turkey (and delicious on a left over sandwich), cranberry sauce is high in vitamin C and low in fat. In addition, cranberries contain compounds that can help prevent bacterial infections such as E.Coli. Cranberry sauce is also a great option for those who are looking to skip dessert — with just the right amount of sugar, it can satisfy almost any sweet tooth.

pumpkin pie, food

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5. Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is more than just the perfect Thanksgiving treat. This rich and tasty dessert is high in beta-carotene, potassium, and fiber, and runs at around 300 calories per slice. Just go easy on the whipped cream if you’re watching your waistline, as the calories can add up very quickly.

green bean casserole, food

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6. Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole is a hearty and enjoyable side dish to indulge in Thanksgiving. High in fiber, folate, and Vitamin B-12, you can splurge on this item virtually guilt free — depending on the ingredients. Recipes that call for lots of butter and cream are going to pack more calories, but will still keep the nutrients in tact. So for the heavier dishes, keep your portions in check.

ham, food

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7. Ham

Ham has become popular choice to serve either along side of turkey, or in place of it, on Thanksgiving day. Though ham may get a bad wrap, it’s surprisingly high in protein and low in fat with around 150 calories for 3 ounces. Also, ham in high in zinc, phosphorus, and packed with healthy B Vitamins.

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