The Thanksgiving Meal Is Packed With Vitamins

Giving You Even More Reason to Be Thankful

April 29, 2020
Squash Autumn Foods

When you think of Thanksgiving, what foods come to mind? Turkey? Sweet potatoes? Cranberries? Pumpkin? Brussel sprouts? All of these colorful foods, in moderation, are not only delicious, but healthy and nutritious! Here are the top Thanksgiving picks …

Thanksgiving gets a bad rap because most people overindulge. Truth is, many traditional Thanksgiving Day foods are really good for you, as well as good-tasting. Think of the deeply-hued fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and cranberries.

In fact, many of your favorite Thanksgiving foods are actually “super foods” and are packed with vitamins and minerals. So now we have even more reasons to be thankful!

Which Vitamins Are Hiding in Your Thanksgiving Meal?

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids lists what vitamins are hiding in your Thanksgiving meal and what they are good for!

Vitamin A
What it does:
• Good for your eyesight
• Helps you see in the dark
• Helps fight infections
• Helps bone growth
Where it hides: milk, cheese, eggs, liver, fish oil, yellow fruits, dark-green & yellow veggies.
Where it is in your Thanksgiving Meal: sweet potatoes, acorn squash, green bean casserole, collard greens, mac n’ cheese, apple pie, pumpkin pie

Squash and pumpkin are loaded with Vitamin A!
Winter squash is especially rich in vitamin which is great for your peepers! So, enjoy that butternut squash—and pumpkin pie!

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B Vitamins
What it does:
• Help make red blood cells
• Help make energy and release it
Where it hides: whole grains (wheats and oats), fish and seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, leafy green veggies, beans and peas, citrus fruits
Where it is in your Thanksgiving Meal: turkey breast, ham, fruit salad with citrus fruits

The big bird rules!
Most of you are probably having turkey breast. It’s packed with vitamins B6 and B12 as well as nutrients including niacin, selenium, and zinc.
Plus, turkey breast meat is a high-quality source of lean protein and an excellent source of an essential amino acid called tryptophan (which is best known for making people feel sleepy, but it can also help strengthen your immune system). Just make sure to remove the fatty skin and go easy on the gravy. 

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Photo credit: Brent Hofacker

Vitamin C
What it does:
• Keeps gums and muscles healthy
• Helps heal cuts
• Helps body resist infection
Where it hides: citrus fruits and juices, berries, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, potatoes, cauliflower, cantaloupe
Where it is in your Thanksgiving Meal: cranberry sauce, Brussels sprouts, green bean casserole, collard greens, apples and apple pie.

Cranberries crush it!
Not only do cranberries deliver vitamin C, but they’re serious superfoods that with antioxidants that boost your health and ward off disease.

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Photo credit: Anna Shepulova/shutterstock

Vitamin D
What it does:
• Makes strong bones and teeth
Where it hides: milk, egg yolks, fish
Where it is in your Thanksgiving Meal: Some people put milk in their sweet potato and green bean casseroles. How about a glass of milk with that pumpkin pie?

Vitamin E
What it does:
• Helps make red blood cells
• Keeps tissues in eyes, skin, and liver healthy
• Protects lungs from pollution
Where it hides: whole grains (wheat and oats), wheat germ, leafy green veggies, sardines, nuts, egg yolks
Where it is in your Thanksgiving Meal: whole grain rolls, leafy green salad, squash, chestnuts

Add chestnuts! 
Ah, chestnut stuffing, chestnuts roasting on an open fire!
Chestnuts are great as a raw snack, sprinkled in salads, or mixed into stuffings with cranberry or apples. They’re a good source of vitamin E, protein, and fiber. And lunlike other nuts, they are also high in vitamin C and have a fraction of the fat and calories

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Image: Chestnuts. See how to peel a chesnut—without cutting off your thumb!

Vitamin K
What it does:
• Enables blood to clot
Where it hides: leafy green veggies, pork, liver, dairy products
Where it is in your Thanksgiving Meal: collard greens, Brussels sprouts, green vegetables, dishes that contain dairy products.

Brussels sprouts are brilliant! 
Just one cup of this superfood packs 4 grams of fiber and more than a day’s worth of vitamin C. Plus, the sulfur compounds in cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts help protect the gut, bolster the immune system and stave off chronic disease. Just rinse the sprouts, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with cracked pepper and roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

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Roasting Brussels sprouts brings out the best flavor and texture, not boiling. See our recipe.

A Couple Pre-Feast Tips

We have no desire to crimp your Thanksgiving feast.  However, if you want to eat well without feeling poorly, here are a few tips.

  • Don’t skip meals. About an hour or two the event, eat a small healthy snack such as an apple (low-calorie, rich in fiber and vitamin C). 
  • Make sure you are well hydrated (with water, not booze) before you sit down for the feast. 
  • When you fill up your plate, make half of the plate filled with those deeply-hued fruits and vegetables (sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cranberries).
  • For some folks, the carbohydrate-containing foods like bread, stuffing, potatoes, and pies can send blood sugar through the roof. Fill at least half the plate with non-carb foods.
  • On Thanksgiving, take care to avoid increasing salt intake; stick to homemade food versus prepared or canned foods; don’t add extra salt to dishes out of habit.

Those are the ins and outs of vitamins in your Thanksgiving meal!  Enjoy the feast! 

Find lots of yummy Thanksgiving recipes here.

About This Blog

This new corner of Almanac.com will feature news, information, and cool stuff from The Old Farmer’s Almanac and its family of publications.