Thanksgiving is upon us and while this has been a very challenging year for most of us, we still have a lot to be thankful for. In particular, there have been recent promising results from multiple potential COVID-19 vaccinations, which have left many people feeling a new sense of hope. And while you may not be having a traditional Turkey Day celebration this year in an effort to protect yourself and others, there are still ways to enjoy the holiday. One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving is cooking delicious food and I will certainly be doing a lot of that this week!
There are numerous ingredients from my book Eat to Beat Disease that I include on my Thanksgiving menu every year to help my family stay healthy while we celebrate, and I want to share a few of them with you so that you can incorporate them as well.
You may not find them roasting on an open fire, but chestnuts will definitely be toasted, crushed up, and added to my Thanksgiving salads, stews, and more. Chestnuts are high in the bioactive ellagic acid, which blocks harmful immune-cloaking proteins. They are also high in beneficial omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and contain antiangiogenic properties. Chestnuts have also been shown to kill cancer cells and lengthen telomeres.
Mushrooms are already a staple in many traditional Thanksgiving dishes such as various gravies, stuffing, casseroles, and more. This is wonderful news because mushrooms are nutrient powerhouses. They contain bioactives like beta-glucan that are antiangiogenic and activate the immune system. Mushrooms are also excellent sources of dietary fiber, increase the diversity of our microbiome, and reduce inflammation.
3. Pomegranate Juice
I love using 100-percent pomegranate juice in Thanksgiving cocktails for several reasons. Aside from being delicious, pomegranate juice is also high in ellagitannins – bioactive polyphenols that have been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer. It has also been shown to encourage the growth of Akkermansia, which is a beneficial bacteria that can help to manage the immune system, improve blood glucose metabolism, decrease gut inflammation, and combat obesity.
4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Some people love the main course while others prefer side dishes. But for me, it is all about the drizzles! EVOO is a fantastic ingredient for topping dishes like casseroles, potatoes, veggies, and even soups. Not only does it provide some delicious flavor and texture, but it also boasts numerous health benefits. When you use it in moderation, it can reduce your risk of cancer. My favorite varietal is Koroneiki because it is potent in the bioactive polyphenol compound hydroxytyrosol. This compound is immune-enhancing, anti-angiogenic, and helps protect your DNA from damage.
They may seem unassuming amongst the platters of marshmallow-topped sweet potato and decadent mac n’ cheese, but carrots are an impressive health food and should be taken into consideration when planning your menu. In Eat to Beat Disease, I label them as a “grand slammer” food because they activate all five health defense systems: angiogenesis, cell regeneration, the microbiome, immunity, and DNA protection. Carrots are rich in bioactives called carotenoids that are impressively high in antioxidant activity. They also boast numerous DNA repair mechanisms. So, if carrots have never earned a place on your Thanksgiving table, I recommend whipping up a carrot soup – your body will thank you.
Many of the foods that I discuss in Eat to Beat Disease would make for wonderful additions to any Thanksgiving spread. Check out the book for more inspiration and remember, getting accustomed to incorporating nutrient-dense, disease-fighting foods into your holiday meals now will ensure that you and your loved ones can celebrate for many years to come.
- Eat to Beat Disease