We don’t usually associate holiday meals with healthy eating, but there are actually lots of opportunities to feed your eyes on Thanksgiving. Here, we share 7 Thanksgiving foods you’re sure to encounter and how they can benefit your eyes. Enjoy!
- Nuts. Keep your dinner guests from getting too ravenous before the meal is served by placing a warm bowl of roasted nuts on the table for snacking. Varieties such as almonds and walnuts are rich in vitamin E, which is known to help fend off age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
TIP: For an extra health boost, dust them with cinnamon to fire up metabolism.
- Turkey. This mostly lean bird is a heavy hitter for eye health. First, it is high in zinc and calcium, which work to keep the muscles of the eye in good working order. It also has vitamin B, which is vital to reducing the dry eye that could spin off into other types of damage.
TIP: Instead of filling the turkey with bready stuffing, consider a chestnut stuffing for a vitamin E boost.
- Green bean casserole. There are two more reasons to love this holiday staple: lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients reduce the risks of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.
TIP: Go easy on the creamy ingredients, which can contain loads of saturated fats. Consider cutting in half the amount of soupy sauce in your dish or replace some or all of it with a lower-fat version.
- Yams/sweet potatoes. The beta-carotene that gives these tubers their bright hue is a rock star when it comes to eye health, providing protection against night blindness as well as infection-fighting antioxidants. There is twice as much beta-carotene in 1 cup of sweet potato as what we usually get in an entire day, so give your guests as many options as you have the energy to prepare.
TIP: Amp up the health benefits by keeping some of the sugar out of the equation. Forgo heaps of marshmallows on your yams in favor of a drizzle of maple syrup or a light dusting of cinnamon and raw sugar. Or skip the sugar entirely with a savory mash.
- Cranberry sauce. Cranberries are an underutilized superfood, making their big appearance at Thanksgiving… and too rarely the rest of the year! These bouncy berries are packed with vitamins like the antioxidant vitamin C.
TIP: Make a simple sauce by simmering 2 cups of fresh cranberries with ¼ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice and ½ cup sugar (more or less, depending on your preference). When the sauce is thickened to a spreadable consistency, stir in 1 teaspoon each of vanilla extract and grated orange peel. This spread is delicious on turkey, toast, buttered biscuits or slathered on a sandwich made from the leftovers the next day.
- Seasonal salad. There’s no downside to leafy greens. The vitamins, minerals and fiber in your dinner salad give your body disease- and inflammation-fighting powers that keep your eyes in top working order.
TIP: Incorporate dried cranberries, carrots, pumpkin seeds and olive oil dressing to get several eye-healthy ingredients into one hearty dish.
- Pumpkin pie. If you’re going to indulge in dessert, it might as well be one that’s packed with beta-carotene, right?
TIP: You can probably cut about 1/3 of the sugar in your recipe without sacrificing much flavor. Trim the calories further by going easy on the whipped cream or even serving your dessert crustless in the form of a light pumpkin mousse.
These traditional favorites will make you, your guests and your eyes very happy on this holiday! Finish your feast with a family walk around the block for a memorable, mood-boosting evening.
The team at Matossian Eye Associates wishes you and yours all the warmth, happiness and health in the world this Thanksgiving Day. Visit us on Facebook to stay abreast of our holiday hours and to share your holiday memories.