Thanksgiving Foods for Brain Health to Include in Your Holiday Menu (Plus Recipes!) by Dr. Teralyn Sell
Thanksgiving foods. What a glorious thought as we roll through November! While we may be looking forward to the mass amounts of comfort foods (and the nap that always follows), we must first ask ourselves how those foods are contributing to our overall health. Incorporating foods that promote heart and gut health is a popular option during the holidays. But did you know that many thanksgiving favorites actually support brain health?
Here are a few foods to add to your holiday menu that can help boost brain health and keep your Thanksgiving meal undeniably delicious:
Turkey has long been a forerunner in the brain health game. Turkey is a good source of zinc, which is an essential mineral for learning and memory. It’s a great protein source that helps to regulate blood sugar, which is central to brain health. Turkey is a great choice to improve tryptophan (an amino acid for brain function), which is a precursor to serotonin (the happy chemical) and then melatonin to help you sleep.
- Orange and Honey Glazed Turkey Breast
- Slow-cooked Turkey Breast
- How to Roast the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey
2. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are great for brain health! They are rich in vitamins B6, folate, vitamin A, fiber and niacin, which are nutrient cofactors or precursors to your neurotransmitters (mood chemicals). Sweet potatoes are also antioxidants (preventing or slowing the damage to cells caused by free radicals), which are great for your immune function. Though they are a sweet treat, because they are rich in fiber they actually help to control blood sugar which is central to brain health.
- Vegan Sweet Potato Pudding
- Cinnamon Spiked Sweet Potato Wedges
- Sweet Potato Skins With Spanish Chorizo and Pickled Onions
- Sweet Potato Casserole With Marshmallows
- Sweet Potato and Parsnip Mash
Cranberries are known to be neuroprotective (protecting nerve cells against damage). Polyphenols (micronutrients) in cranberries have been found to ultimately protect the gut microbiota, and provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions throughout the brain and body. Gut health and inflammation have been linked to mood disorders and brain health making cranberries a great choice at the holiday table.
- Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- Cream Cheese Cranberry Bread
- Cranberry Leek Quinoa
- Cranberry and Orange Relish
- Cranberry and Nut Cheese Balls
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