Pumpkins, Pecans, Potatoes, Cranberries & Turkey: Thanksgiving Nutritional Stars

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November 26, 2014

Pumpkins, Pecans, Potatoes, Cranberries & Turkey: Thanksgiving Nutritional Stars

Thanksgiving is here and as you get ready for the tasty meal, SupermarketGuru wants to remind you that not only does Thanksgiving signify the harvest and a time to be thankful but also remember that many of our Thanksgiving favorites are true nutritional standouts.

Thanksgiving is here and as you get ready for the tasty meal, SupermarketGuru wants to remind you that not only does Thanksgiving signify the harvest and a time to be thankful for all of the wonderful things in our lives, but also remember that many of our Thanksgiving favorites are true nutritional standouts.

Turkey, the star of the thanksgiving feast boasts a respectable nutritional profile. It’s a great source of lean protein, selenium, niacin, vitamin B6 and phosphorous. A 4 oz serving of turkey also contains over 100 percent of the recommended daily intake of tryptophan, essential for both appetite regulation and mood elevation. Remember four ounces is about the size of a deck of cards.

Cranberries, the ultimate fall fruit, are tangy, tart, tasty and super nutritious! They contain vitamin C, fiber, manganese and vitamin K. Most well known for keeping our urinary tracts healthy, cranberries’ unique combination of phytonutrients and other compounds are also thought to boast gastrointestinal as well as oral health, prevent the formation of kidney stones, improve cholesterol levels, aid in recovery from stroke and even help prevent cancer. Certain compounds in cranberries have also demonstrated anti-viral and anti-bacterial abilities. Do remember that most Thanksgiving cranberry sauces contain a significant amount of added sugar, which might outweigh the benefits - enjoy in moderation!

Potatoes, usually thought of as a super indulgent unhealthy side dish, are actually a great source of vitamins and minerals. Potatoes contain vitamin C, B6, copper, potassium, manganese, iron, protein and fiber- as well as a variety of antioxidants and can be an excellent addition to any healthy lifestyle. Some of the antioxidants found in potatoes are phenols and flavonoids, which have shown protective benefits against cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems and certain cancers. Baking, steaming or lightly sautéing helps to ‘preserve’ the amazing health benefits of potatoes… and keep the skin on because that is where many of the nutrients are found! 

Pecans are packed with a variety of vitamins, minerals and other compounds beneficial for good health. Pecans contain vitamins A and E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, potassium, several B vitamins and zinc. They also contain fiber and protein, and are a good source of heart healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats. It has been suggested that a well balanced diet with the addition of pecans may help prevent heart disease (due to the vitamin E content, a natural antioxidant), decrease cancer risks, aid in lowering cholesterol and help in weight control.

Pumpkin’s nutritional profile, health benefits and rich antioxidant content are often forgotten (or completely unknown) due to its popularity as both a sweet pie filling and a sometimes-scary jack-o-lantern. Both the seeds and the actual pumpkin ‘meat’ provide unique health promoting compounds that have been shown to benefit various systems in the body. A quarter cup of pumpkin seeds boasts an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, tryptophan, iron, copper, vitamin K, zinc, protein and monounsaturated fats. Some of the benefits of consuming pumpkin seeds include improved prostate health, anti-inflammatory effects, and the seeds may have a cholesterol lowering ability. The ‘meat’ or flesh of the pumpkin contains potassium, zinc, dietary fiber and the bright orange color indicates that pumpkin is rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, which is great for our eyesight and more.

Who knew our favorite Thanksgiving ingredients and foods were such stellar nutritional standouts? SupermarketGuru wants to remind you that many of the traditional preparations of our seasonal favorites are loaded with not so healthy ingredients, but nonetheless should be enjoyed in moderation. Or hey, if you are feeling like you want you and your family to benefit from these amazing foods, there are plenty of healthier recipes and preparation methods that are sure to satisfy.