8 Heart Health Benefits of Your Favorite Holiday Foods

Amy Hendel | Nov 14, 2016

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Even though holiday meals are often calorie-dense, you do still reap some heart healthy benefits. Here are eight classic holiday foods with hidden health benefits.

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Pumpkin pie

One of the healthier dessert options, pumpkin pie provides fiber, manganese, copper, magnesium, zinc, and various B vitamins. A diet high in fiber supports healthy cholesterol levels, while consuming adequate magnesium promotes lower blood pressure.

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Cranberry sauce

Cranberries are a rich source of antioxidants, including vitamins C and E. Antioxidants protect against free radicals, a step toward preventing heart disease and cancer.

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Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes provide fiber, vitamins C, beta carotene, manganese, and potassium. A diet high in potassium promotes healthy blood pressure. One sweet potato provides 428 mg of potassium.

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Mashed potatoes

White potatoes contain vitamin B6, potassium, copper, and vitamin C. Vitamin B6 promotes normal homocysteine levels. Elevated homocysteine is associated with plaque build-up and blood clots. One cup of mashed potatoes provides 32 percent of the daily recommended intake for vitamin B6.

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Green bean casserole

Green beans contain carotenoids, flavonoids, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese. Carotenoids provide anti-inflammatory benefits to protect against heart disease. Green beans also provide heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

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Eggnog

Milk, the main ingredient in eggnog, is a rich source of calcium, providing 330 mg of calcium per 8-ounce serving. A meta-analysis from 2015 showed more evidence that dairy consumption is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

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Turkey

While there is not truly enough tryptophan in turkey for it to be the cause of your post-meal nap, turkey is a rich source of heart healthy lean protein, providing 26-grams of protein per three-ounce serving with only 2 grams of fat.

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Pecans

Twenty-two pecans provide 20 grams of heart healthy unsaturated fat. Adding just a handful of pecans to your daily diet will help prevent heart disease.

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Choose wisely

While holiday foods provide heart healthy nutrients, they are often prepared with extra fat and sugar, leading to calorie-dense options. Going overboard can counteract the heart healthy benefits.