Health Matters – Healthy Thanksgiving

You’re probably in the midst of preparations for your Thanksgiving weekend?inviting friends and family and shopping or cooking. But before you worry about wrecking your diet, here’s some good news: did you know that several foods can significantly enhance the health potential of your Thanksgiving feast? And chances are, they’re already on the menu.

Orange, Orange, Orange!

Bring on the sweet potatoes, squash, and pumpkin?your Thanksgiving superfoods! These foods are naturally high in several B-vitamins (including B2, B6, and folic acid), as well as vitamin C. Additionally, their orange colour signifies high beta-carotene levels; your body converts beta-carotene to Vitamin A, which gives glowing skin and helps maintain strong bones and teeth.

Brightly coloured foods like these orange gems also signify a high antioxidant potential, and therefore help protect against certain types of cancer (including lung and prostate). From a traditional healing perspective, warm and nourishing foods like sweet potato and pumpkin are an excellent adrenal tonic, gently restoring the body back to health after stress.

Go Starch!

Potatoes are a common Thanksgiving menu starch, and are a great nutritional staple if You’re able to consume them (some find themselves sensitive to foods from the Solonaceae family: peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes). I like to think of potatoes as a trace mineral source, since they contain tiny amounts of in-ground minerals that are necessary for our body’s healthy functioning. The trace minerals found in potatoes include copper, manganese (this is not magnesium!), and boron?minerals that, in high doses, have toxic properties, but that in small amounts are necessary co-factors to many of our bodies? chemical reactions. Copper, for instance, in its trace mineral amounts, is required for skin health, energy, and immunity; manganese is a necessary component for male fertility; and boron is a key ingredient for healthy bones and joints.


In last year’s Thanksgiving article, I talked about nutrition-packed cranberries. But here’s a quick refresher: the bright red colour of cranberries means they’re vitamin and antioxidant powerhouses, offering a nearly-full spectrum of vitamins B and C, as well as protection against the cell damage occurring in day-to-day life (inhaled pollutants, for example). Just be sure to limit the added sugar; and for maximum nutritional benefit, consider preparing a raw relish instead of cooking the berries.

Crazy for nuts

Many of us put out a nut plate on Thanksgiving Day?a great choice for healthy afternoon snacking. Nuts contain protein, something that many of us don’t get enough of in our daily diets. Protein is necessary for cell repair and growth (remember, your body is constantly repairing and regenerating itself). Crunch a few cashews; they offer trace minerals like magnesium, copper, and phosphorus. Or sample some fibre-rich pistachios to up your daily fibre intake.

Walnuts are the omega-3 kings (or queens); their omega-3 content is one of the highest of all nuts. Omega-3, a healthy fat, helps maintains the fatty layer encircling cells. It also supports optimal brain health, and many studies show that diets with adequate omega-3 help prevent heart disease, arthritis, and depression.

Note, of course, that a little goes a long way?a serving of nuts should be a small one, since although nuts contain healthy fats they are high in calories and should not be overconsumed.

Thanksgiving dinner can be a feast, but It’s by no means a health disaster. Squash, sweet potato, pumpkin, potatoes, cranberries, and nuts are nutritional stars and should have a place on your holiday table this year!

Katie D’Souza is an AU graduate and a licensed naturopathic doctor. She currently practices in Ontario.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for personal interest only; it is not intended for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. Readers are always encouraged to seek the professional advice of a licensed physician or qualified health care practitioner for personal health or medical conditions.