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Tis the Season to be…Healthy?

November 20th, 2020

Big dinners. Carbs. Cocktails. Sweets…

For many people, the holiday season signals an extended period of unhealthy overindulgence.

But it doesn’t have to be all bad news. In fact, several of our favorite holiday foods actually have some surprising health benefits.

So when you’re planning (and eating) those holiday feasts…you can feel good about these holiday favorites:

Turkey…the feel-good bird

You know that good feeling you get after you eat a turkey dinner?

Thank the turkey for that. Specifically, a chemical present in turkey called tryptophan. Many people blame this amino acid in turkey for causing their post-meal nap.

There’s actually science to support this. Your body metabolizes tryptophan to produce melatonin…the hormone that makes you sleepy at night.

However, your body also converts some of the tryptophan from turkey into serotonin…otherwise known as the “feel-good” hormone.

Serotonin elevates your mood and gives you a feeling of well-being and happiness. It also contributes to memory and brain health.

Even better news…your body absorbs more tryptophan when you consume it with carbohydrates. So don’t feel too guilty over a little stuffing or a dinner roll…you’ll feel better (even if a little sleepy).

Cranberries for antioxidants

And what’s turkey without cranberry sauce? A lot less healthy, as it turns out.

Cranberries are rich in chemicals called polyphenols. And the polyphenols in cranberries are packed full of heart-healthy antioxidants.

Not only that, but these polyphenols fight inflammation and promote urinary tract health.

Look for recipes that use the whole cranberry because the polyphenols in cranberries are concentrated in the skin.

Green beans for stronger bones

Green bean casserole isn’t just delicious…it’s also good for healthy bones.

Green beans are an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin K. All of these are vital for maintaining and repairing your skeletal system.

Yams for healthy blood

Not to be confused with sweet potatoes, yams are high in copper and Vitamin C.

Your body needs copper to produce red blood cells…necessary to carry oxygen through the blood stream.

The Vitamin C in yams helps your body absorb iron, which is also needed to maintain an adequate supply of red blood cells in the body.

Pumpkin for better vision

That slice of pumpkin pie after dinner may be good for your eyes…not just your taste buds.

Pumpkins are full of beta-carotene, used by your body to produce Vitamin A. And Vitamin A is vital for eye health.

Not only that, but pumpkin also contains lutein and zeaxanthin. These eye-healthy compounds help reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

Chocolate for your heart

Dark chocolate…70% cacao or more…is actually good for you.

Dark chocolate is full of antioxidant-rich, inflammation-fighting flavinols. These can promote lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to your heart and brain.

Nuts for your heart

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…or mixed nuts out of a can if you prefer. Either way, nuts can be a good snacking alternative to sweets at this time of year.

Most nuts are high in unsaturated (heart healthy) fats. Many also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Some, like almonds, are high in vitamin E, calcium, fiber and plant protein.

A couple of hints…

We know…all of the above becomes less ideal when mixed with sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. So just remember…all things in moderation. A little bit of everything (even the less-healthy choices) is better than overloading your plate.

Don’t forget to get some exercise…even if it’s just an after-dinner walk. Maintaining your exercise routine will minimize the impact of some overindulgence.

At Renew Youth, we’re here to support your health year-round. That includes the holiday season.

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