Thanksgiving: A time to get together with family and stuff yourself with food. While Thanksgiving is a festive and happy holiday, many people (including myself) find themselves feeling guilty over the food they ate during the holiday. Even though you may have consumed a little more than your recommended daily caloric intake, there are many health benefits behind Thanksgiving foods. I have compiled a list of common Thanksgiving foods and their health benefits to hopefully make you feel a little better about your food habits on the festive holiday.

1. Mashed Potatoes

milk, cream, dairy product, mashed potatoes, butter, dairy
Caitlin Shoemaker

Mashed potatoes are not usually what people envision as healthy, and that is true, they are not necessarily the best thing for you. Still, potatoes, the star in this dish, do happen to do a lot of good for your body. Potatoes are packed with many minerals, antioxidants, and nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, and potassium which are essential for your bodily functions. Potatoes also have resistant starch, which may help regulate blood sugar levels making potatoes a great food choice, especially for people who suffer insulin resistance. To add on, studies have even shown that potatoes may lower your chance of colon cancer. Not to mention that potatoes are very filling, so eating these mashed potatoes first can help deter you from eating too much during Thanksgiving. A lot of good behind this quite unassuming but common food!

2. Green Beans

vegetable, asparagus, legume, french beans, pea, beans
Gabby Phi

Green beans is one of the most common vegetables consumed during Thanksgiving, usually through dishes like green bean casserole. Like potatoes, green beans have a lot of vitamins and minerals, particularly Vitamin C and Vitamin A. These vitamins can boost your immune system and promote healthy vision. Green beans also have high levels of manganese, which is great for your bones and boosts your metabolism. To top it all off, green beans are low in calories and contain a lot of fiber, which can promote a healthy weight and healthy heart. 

3. Sweet Potato Casserole

chocolate, sweet, pastry, cream, cake, candy, goody, dairy product, cookie
Hui Lin

Many people think of sweet potatoes as potato's healthier cousin. These root vegetables pack a lot of punch in the health benefits department. Like potatoes and green beans, sweet potatoes have a lot of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C and vitamin A. Sweet potatoes also contain beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that has been linked to slowing down cognitive decline as well as keeping lungs healthy. Furthermore, the fiber levels and antioxidants in potatoes promote gut health and like potatoes, sweet potatoes have been linked to lower rates of cancer. Anthocyanin, an antioxidant in sweet potatoes, has been found to lower growth rates of bladder, colon, stomach, and breast cancers.

4. Cranberry Sauce

jam, sweet, berry, marmalade, gelatin, cranberry sauce, compote
Helena Lin

Cranberry sauce is one of the most common condiments found on the Thanksgiving table. Cranberries include a ton of health benefits and some even consider it a superfood, due to its high nutrient and antioxidant content. Cranberries are high in fiber, low and calories, and full of vitamins such as vitamin C and the vitamin Bs. Cranberries also contain polyphenols which can help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies have pointed that cranberries may slow down cancer spread as well. Cranberries are even great for your mouth; they can prevent bacteria from binding to your teeth and gum disease. 

5. Corn

corn, vegetable, pasture, cereal, hazelnut, meat, sweet corn
Wallis Linker

Corn is a popular food all around and is commonly found on the Thanksgiving table. Sweet corn contains many vitamins including potassium, folate, and vitamin B6. Corn also contains a decent amount of protein, so this side dish on Thanksgiving is perfect for vegans and vegetarians who aren't able to get protein from meat. Corn contains many antioxidants as well. For instance, corn contains the antioxidant lutein, which can protect your eyes from damage caused by blue light. 

6. Turkey

chicken, turkey, garlic
Sarah Goldman

The star of Thanksgiving dinner, turkey, is probably the first food that pops up when thinking of Thanksgiving. Turkey, like most meat, is loaded with protein. And luckily, turkey is white meat, so you aren't getting those ill effects associated red meat such as beef or pork. Turkey also contains B vitamins, which is essential for the stuff going on in your body like making red blood cells and amino acids. To add on, turkey has a lot of minerals such as phosphorous, which promotes bone health.

7. Pumpkin Pie

pie, pumpkin, chocolate
Connor Finholt

Although pumpkin pie has many unhealthy aspects, there are also some healthy aspects to it. Pumpkin is the main ingredient in pumpkin pie and it is highly nutritious. Pumpkin is especially rich in vitamin A which is great for your eyesight and it along with other vitamins and antioxidants help boost your immune system. That is something that might come in handy during this pandemic. The nutrients in pumpkin promote heart health, promote healthy skin, and may even lower your risk of cancer. Also, desserts in general can actually good for you! Consuming desserts can cause your brain to produce tryptophan and seratonin who basically make you happy and can promote emotional well-being. So, psychologically, desserts are probably the best thing to eat. 

Don't be a downer this Thanksgiving due to what you ate. Look at the glass half full instead of half empty. There are a lot of health benefits in Thanksgiving foods and you don't have to feel too guilty about eating them!