After stuffing yourself this Thanksgiving, it’s time to shake off that sleepy feeling and get back into those healthy eating habits you’ve picked up. The good news? You don’t necessarily have to give up on your lovely turkey day leftovers—in fact, some of your favourite foods from last night are packed with nutrients and health benefits your body can’t get enough of. Here are five Thanksgiving foods that you should keep stocked the whole year round for a healthier diet.
Little did you know, but last night you were eating one of the few true superfoods out there. Chock full of vitamin C and other healthy anti-oxidants, they will keep your immune system stronger than even broccoli, and rank just under blueberries (which already contain a massive dose of the good stuff). Plus, if you’re a little over the hill they can even help, well, down there by preventing urinary tract infections. They’re less sugary than most other berries, containing only 45 calories per cup—that said, reach for a variety of dried berries with no sugar added as a snack, or blend some frozen berries into your post-workout shake for added tartness.
Just like their fellow tuber, carrots, sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene. However, they also have mounds of vitamin C, vitamin B6—which kickstarts your body’s energy production—and vitamin D, which is more important in winter than ever—the seasonal lack of exposure to sunlight can create a deficiency of the vitamin, potentially leading to rickets or bone damage. That same winter deficiency in vitamin D and sunlight can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which can profoundly drop your mood. It also pays to know that sweet potatoes contain a load of iron. Boil some up and mash them with a small splash of olive oil and rosemary for a savoury side dish, or use the same seasoning for baked fries.
Lightly fried with a little bit of butter, fresh green beans have a lot to boast over canned varieties, which can lose out on almost all of the vitamin C and B compounds present. Vitamin B is present in folate, which can help in cell division and wound healing, plus the potassium helps regulate your blood pressure and cardiovascular health. Most prominent, however, are green beans’ high fibre content, which makes them the ideal side dish for protein-heavy diets and anyone else with a heavily taxed digestive system.
The green spears can be considered nature’s manliest vegetable, with high concentrations of magnesium and iron that can help boost your athletic (and sexual) health. Asparagus also fights many common types of cancers, including those of the lung and colon. However, contrary to popular belief, the potassium content in the vegetable only helps fight the appearance of fat around the midsection by decreasing the body’s water retention levels that make you look puffy (not that we’ll nark on you). Asparagus, much like green beans, is best served steamed or unboiled to preserve its rich nutrients with a low-fat protein, such as fish.
You didn’t think that turkey on your table was all bad for you, did you? It’s actually one of the leanest proteins out there, up there with chicken and fish, which makes a 3 oz. turkey sandwich a perfect lunch on a workout day, packing 30 grams of low-calorie protein as well as that iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorus that will help you excel pumping weights. Tryptophan (an amino acid in turkey) can even boost your serotonin levels and mood, helping you get some quality sleep. We suggest keeping those leftovers on ice until you need them—turkey of the lunch meat variety can contain unwanted preservatives and heaps of sodium.