Thanksgiving is around the corner and we’re excited to sit down with our families for a feast. However, just because we get to take the day off from work, it doesn’t mean that our bodies do. There are several dishes on the Thanksgiving table that can cause the heart to work harder. This article will help you identify them and allow you to make an informed decision on whether or not to get second helpings.
Let’s look at the top 3 offenders
1. Green Bean Casserole: You would imagine that anything with green beans in it is rather healthy, but this popular dish is at the top of our list because of its high sodium content. With 600mg of sodium per serving, it will raise your blood pressure.
According the the American Heart Association (AHA), the daily recommended sodium intake limit is 1,500 mg. Eating a single serving of the green bean casserole would take up over a third of that. If you are planning on cooking this dish yourself, you can make it healthier by reducing the amount of salt and by making sure that the beans are not overcooked. Overcooking the beans reduced their original 4 grams of fiber down to only 1 gram, stripping them of most of their minerals. A diet high in fiber can lower your blood pressure and help protect you against stroke.
2. Gravy: It’s hard to imagine our mashed potatoes and turkey without gravy poured all over. However, if we stop to think about what gravy is - a sauce made of juices from meats thickened with some type of lard and cornstarch or flour – we can see why this delicious addition is something to limit. Every serving containing two tablespoons offers up 1 gram of saturated fat and 100 grams of sodium. These figures are based on a basic gravy recipe. However, the numbers can climb quickly based on additions that are made to the sauce. The sodium and fat content put a strain on the heart by increasing blood pressure and cholesterol levels which can lead to various forms of heart disease.
If you’d still like to enjoy some gravy during your Thanksgiving meal, consider making it from scratch and limiting the amount of fat and salt that goes into it. If you’re going the pre-packaged route, try choosing the organic products that are labeled low-sodium and low-fat.
3. Stuffing: Although it’s not as sodium dense as traditional green bean casserole is, a serving of stuffing has approximately 400 mg of sodium which contributes to high blood pressure. If left unchecked, high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, heart failure or stroke by thickening your arteries and limiting nutrients and oxygen that get to your heart.
If your stuffing is filled with foods other than starches and vegetable such as sausage, bacon or other processed meats, its fat content will increase, and you will be introducing nitrates into the mix. Sodium nitrate is a preservative which causes arteries to harden and narrow and will lead to heart disease.
The best way to have your stuffing and eat it too is to make better ingredient choices.
Avoid processed meats, opt out of the prepackaged stuffing options, use lots of
vegetable and make the stuffing from scratch.
We wish you a happy and heart-healthy Thanksgiving!
If you’d like to know how your heart health is, schedule an appointment with North Suffolk Cardiology today by calling 631.941.2000.