Dr. Paul Perella, DMD


We all know that the holidays are for eating too much, but did you know that some of your favorite holiday food items can actually be good for you?

A recent poll conducted asked what is your favorite holiday food, and 38% responded that turkey is the one holiday dish they cannot live without. Good news for you turkey-lovers, there are many health benefits to eating the bird.

  • Turkey is rich in vitamin B. Turkey is a great source of vitamins B3 and B6. These vitamins are part of the complex B vitamins, and are essential for healthy eyes, hair, liver and skin, as well as helping the nervous system function properly. The B3 vitamin, also called niacin, specifically helps make hormones in the adrenal gland and improves circulation. Vitamin B6 plays an important role in metabolism and the release of glucose from glycogen. One serving of turkey contains about 36% of the daily recommendation for B3, and 27% for B6.
  • Turkey protects against cancer. Turkey contains an element that plays a role in the antioxydant defense system called selenium. Selenium also helps with thyroid and immune system function, which helps to eliminate cancer-friendly radicals from the body. In addition, turkey also contains some minerals thought to help prevent cancer.
  • Turkey contains just the right amount of saturated fat. Saturated fat is beneficial, as it is essential for hormone production, protection of organs and energy. However, consuming too much saturated fat will start having negative effects on your health. One serving of turkey contains less than 12% of the daily recommended serving, so you can enjoy your turkey without worring about overdoing it.
  • Turkey is high in protein. Protein aids in growth, muscle development and antibody production, and is therefore essential to living. One serving of turkey provides about 65% of the daily recommended intake of protein, making it a great source of the nutrient.

Pumpkin Pie, Anyone?

In that same survey, 44% of respondents indicated that they would rather have pumpkin pie during the holidays than any other dessert. While you wouldn't normally expect a dessert to have any health benefits, pumpkin pie filling is actually loaded with lots of nutrients. The main nutrients found in pumpkin pie are fiber and vitamin A.

Fiber is necessary for a healthy heart, and it aids in the digestion process. The recommended daily amount of fiber is about 44 grams, and half a cup of pie filling can contain up to 25% of that. Pumpkin pie is also loaded with vitamin A, as one slice actually exceeds the recommended daily amount. Vitamin A strengthens eyesight and the immune system, and produces red blood cells.

Other nutrients found in pumpkin pie are:

  • Potassium: Potassium is an electrolyte that helps regulate heartbeat and nerve signals, reduces swelling, protects the kidney and relaxes contracting muscles.
  • Carotenoids: Commonly found in orange foods (such as sweet potatoes and carrots), these antioxidants strengthen eyesight, prevent aging, fight off cancer and boost immunity.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is known for boosting the immune system and assisting in digestion and the formation of teeth and blood cells. Vitamin C also produces collagen, which helps keep the skin elastic.
  • Iron: Iron is essential for creating energy, producing red and white blood cells and metabolizing protein.

Even though pumpkin pie can be very rich in nutrients, don't forget it's also high in sugar and fat.

The real danger of holiday feasting is not actually the food itself, but rather eating too much. Overeating causes weight gain, heart problems, and other major health issues.

A good rule to stand by: Enjoy everything, but in moderation and watch your portions. You will be thankful when you don't feel stuffed and your body with thank you too!

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