How To Have A Heart-Healthy Thanksgiving

How To Have A Heart-Healthy Thanksgiving
Written by Ron Martin
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3 minutes

Let’s face it, food plays a big part in our Thanksgiving holiday. Even as kids we learned that Thanksgiving is a celebration of when the pilgrims and Indians sat down and broke bread together. So we continue to celebrate with food at the center of our gatherings of friends, family and those we love most.

Here’s the challenge: Today’s Thanksgiving meal is dripping in butter, sugar, fats and many other things that aren’t good for our hearts. Then we top it off with hours of sitting (or sleeping) in front of the television with football, parades and great pumpkins to watch.

What can you do about it? We aren’t saying to give up the gravy, don’t worry about that – a healthy diet is all about balance and moderation. We’re recommending some small changes that can have a big impact on your holiday heart health.

Gobble the Grains

Look for ways to incorporate whole grains into your Thanksgiving meal. Simple changes like using a whole grain bread in your stuffing instead of less nutritionally dense white bread can make a difference.

Freeze Out the Frozen Bird

Do you know what’s in your turkey? If you’re buying from the frozen food aisle, you could be getting lots of extra salt in your bird. Buy a fresh turkey instead of a frozen one that might have been infused with a sodium solution.

Don’t Go Hungry

We all do it. We walk into Thanksgiving dinner so hungry we could eat the napkin rings! This year make sure you have a healthy, low fat snack before you go and avoid overloading your plate.

Minimize to Maximize

Portion control is a challenge, especially during the holiday season. Don’t save that dessert plate for the end. Use a smaller plate for your meal and you’ll find yourself pleasantly full instead of so stuffed you want to roll out the door.

Choose Wisely

Life is all about choices and Thanksgiving is no different. As you look at the feast before you, choose your salad and vegetables first, then move on to the meat, and finally the carb-loaded sides. If you fill your plate with the healthy stuff first, you won’t have room to overdo it on the rest.

And speaking of choices… don’t eliminate that pumpkin pie from your celebrations. Just make sure you choose a small piece and enjoy every bite of it!

It’s All About the Meat

The bird is always the star of the show at the Thanksgiving table. And while turkey, in general, can be healthier than other meats, it’s all about which part you choose, and how it’s prepared.

Stick with the white breast meat for less fat, and don’t forget to leave that skin behind. If you have the option, a smoked or roasted bird is always a healthier choice than a deep-fried one.

Walk It Off

It’s a tradition to roll from the Thanksgiving dinner table to the recliner for hours in front of the television. But not this year! Take a quick walk around the block after your meal to get your blood pumping. The game’s going to be on for a while, so you’ve got plenty of time.

Do Some Digging

If you’re the lucky one cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year, then you have full control to make lots of heart-healthy substitutions. Look online for low cholesterol, low fat or other heart-healthy recipes for your meal, and load up on veggie side dishes. We’ve got a great list to get you started at here!

Written by:

Ron Martin

Vice President of the Nutrients Division

Ron Martin is the Vice President of the Nutrients Division at Kaneka North America. Ron’s dedication to lifelong learning and belief that “one cannot know too much” inspired a decades-long career centered around educating the public about health.

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