8 Heart Health Benefits of Your Favorite Holiday Foods

Health Writer
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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.