4 Hidden Health Benefits of Turkey Dinner

You may have resigned yourself to accepting that Thanksgiving is a time of indulgence, ending in a distended belly and a gravy-stained shirt.

But there’s no need to resign yourself to all of the negative aspects of gluttony this holiday season. There are a few silver health linings on your plate, including:

Turkey talk

The best news is that turkey is a lean protein – it’s when you eat the skin and drown it in gravy that things go awry.

Make that bird work for you by leaving it dry; an herb seasoning never hurt, obviously. Find tips here and reap its benefits, which include a nice dose of phosphorous (hello calcium and healthy bones) and everyone’s favourite, tryptophan, an amino acid that helps you chill out and probably fall asleep. Just don’t forget to follow good poultry preparation practices from the beginning.

Sweet, sweet, sweet potato

Something with “sweet” in its name doesn’t seem likely to be soaking in health benefits, but such is the dichotomy of the sweet potato.

Unlike its humble sibling, the white potato, sweet potato is full of beta carotene, which your body converts to Vitamin A and uses to help your vision, immune system and skin. (It’s not a competition, but for the curious, check out this handy potato comparison.) Sweet potatoes also add a dash of colour to your plate.

Salad time

Don’t waste your taste buds, time or plate space with boring old iceberg lettuce or fatty caesar dressing. You can spice up the salad course by swapping in our trendy friend kale, loaded with the likes of protein, fibre, an Omega-3 and Vitamins A, C (good overall health and known scurvy fighter) and K (good blood).

Try swapping leaves for grains: quinoa is incredibly nutritious (it features all nine essential amino acids), gluten-free, has a low glycemic index and is a versatile ingredient that you can mix with lots of similarly good-for-you things like cucumber, peppers, chickpeas, carrots and avocado.

Pumped for pumpkin

As long as you don’t go for canned pumpkin pie mix – keep it the real deal – the traditional pie has benefits, too. Like its orange friend the sweet potato, pumpkin is packed full of beta-carotene. It’s also full of fibre, Vitamin C and potassium, which is good for your heart (provided you skip the whipped cream) and regulating blood pressure.

There are also some things you can do pre- and post-dinner to approach the event sensibly. And fear not, celiac and celiac-sensitive folks, there’s inspiration for you, too. Consider it all a dress rehearsal for Christmas.

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