Healthy Foods for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a celebration where food takes center stage. It can be done with a fancy feast of calorie-ridden foods or a simple Thanksgiving meal with special treats. However the food is prepared, from scratch, store-bought or a combination of both, meals can be healthy if proper nutritional information is considered.

Thanksgiving Turkey, the Favorite Holiday Food

The centerpiece of most American and Canadian thanksgiving dinner is roast turkey. How healthy is turkey?

Roasted or cooked dark meat of turkey contains a lot of cholesterol; that is, one cup of chopped meat contains 119 mg of cholesterol and 262 calories. Thirty-five percent of these calories are derived from fat, and the rest from proteins.

However, the same amount of light meat from turkey will give only 220 calories, with only 18% of these from fat, and mostly from protein. Cholesterol content is only 97 mg.

Leaving the skin out of the plate helps because it is high in saturated fat. Just 30 grams of turkey skin can give 36 grams of cholesterol and 141 calories, 81% of which is from fat.

Breast meat of turkey is a good source of niacin, vitamin B6, selenium and phosphorus. However, fryer-roasters are also a source of cholesterol, around 72 mg. A serving size or breast meat (90 grams, approximately) yields 117 calories, 95% of which is from proteins.

Roast turkey is often prepared with bread stuffing, complete with spices like sage, and vegetables like carrots and celery. Gravy or cranberry sauce also adds to the flavor but may definitely increase the calorie, sugar and fat content of a single serving of turkey.

Traditional Thanksgiving Food

Pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, corn, muffins, sweet potatoes and cranberries are all part of the traditional list of Thanksgiving food. Aside from turkey, ham may also be served as a meat dish. Other desserts also include apple pie and pecan pie.

When buying commercially prepared foods to beat the holiday rush, one must take the time to consider not only the taste and presentation of the food products but also the nutritional information in the labels. Details to watch out for are the saturated fat, sugar, cholesterol and sodium contents. Even home-made foods can be loaded with these, so one must take care to choose recipes that have more of the healthy ingredients like fruits, vegetables and spices that contain antioxidants.

Substituting whole grains for white bread, rice or pasta can help decrease sugar and caloric consumption and at the same time promote good digestion.

The portion, amount or serving size of food taken in probably can regulate one’s caloric consumption. Controlling food portions can help decrease the way people overeat during the holidays while watching out for unhealthy ingredients.

Another way to avoid packing in the pounds during the holidays is to not eat until full, but to just eat until the hunger is not felt anymore. There is a difference between not being hungry anymore, and being quite full, so if one can just control a hearty appetite, overeating can be averted.

Lastly, doing some exercise during the holidays will help burn the calories. After all, when calorie intake is well balanced by calorie expenditure, one is apt to maintain weight and remain healthy.

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