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Thanksgiving foods, most are actually healthy!


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A type of winter squash, pumpkin contains powerful carotenoids, plant pigments that may help ward off some chronic conditions including heart disease and age-related vision loss (macular degeneration). Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A, potassium and iron, and it’s kind to your waistline too.

Sweet Potatoes:

Native to North America, flavorful sweet potatoes are among the most nutrient-rich foods. One medium (4-ounce) sweet potato, baked with the skin, has about four times your daily requirement of Vitamin A and almost half the recommendation for Vitamin C. Sweet potatoes are also a notable source of vitamin E, providing over a quarter of the daily recommendation. All this in just 100 calories! Sweet potatoes are perfect baked or mashed -- just be sure to go light on the marshmallows or brown sugar when making sweet potato casseroles.


Don’t just save turkey for the holidays -- this lean protein is worth gobbling down year round. In fact, a standard 3-ounce portion of cooked turkey, with both white and dark meat, contains only 135 calories and 24 grams of protein. As an added benefit, turkey is also rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which helps the body to make serotonin which is thought help to stabilize mood and ensure a good night’s sleep. Turkey is also a good source of important vitamins and minerals, including niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, iron, phosphorus and zinc


When it comes to filling up without filling out -- apples are a sure winner. One medium apple contains just 95 calories and 4 grams of fiber to help keep you satisfied and subdue hunger cravings. The majority of heart-healthy fiber is found in the apple peel, so make sure to eat your apple with the skin on. Besides helping to ward off holiday weight gain, apples are also rich in flavonols, powerful plant compounds that can help prevent the bad cholesterol (LDL) from forming as well as help to reduce the risk of certain cancers and age-related degenerative diseases. Consider baked apples instead of classic apple pie to eliminate the fat- and carb-rich crust.


Whether you prefer cranberry sauce or cranberry relish, canned cranberry or homemade, the small, antioxidant-packed berry is a terrific complement to your favorite dishes. Just 1 cup of raw cranberries provides a whopping 5 grams of fiber, 24 percent of your daily vitamin C needs and 20 percent of your daily manganese. This holiday favorite also contains high levels of anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant believed to protect against cancer and heart disease; and the specific anthocyanins in cranberries are also known to help with urinary tract health.


There’s good news for chocoholics! Dark chocolate, hot cocoa or a delicious dessert made with cocoa (cacao) powder can be a healthy, antioxidant-packed finish to your holiday feast. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are rich in phytochemicals that provide heart health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, and reducing risk of heart attack and stroke. Studies have also linked chocolate flavanols with a reduced risk for neurological decline. The darker the better, as the higher the percentage of cacao, the more polyphenols will be in the chocolate. Be sure to choose a chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao.


For centuries garlic has been used as natural medicine to prevent or treat a wide range of diseases and conditions. Multiple studies published throughout the last 10 years confirm that using small amounts of herbs and spices in recipes can yield big health benefits. A review of garlic’s impact on heart health found that this flavorful herb may help to improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels and aid in blood clotting. Other studies have showed that consuming garlic may help protect against stomach and colorectal cancers. You can reap garlic’s health benefits by chopping it finely to release allinase, an enzyme that aids in the formation of garlic’s cancer-protective compounds. Since cooking stops the activity of this beneficial enzyme, it’s best to let crushed garlic “stand” for 10 minutes after chopping, before adding it to heat – this prevents total loss of its anti-carcinogenic activity.

Find more hidden health benefits in this article.

http://www.livestrong.com/slideshow/100 ... uperfoods/

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