Public Release: 

Thanksgiving: A time for healthful eating?

American Chemical Society

Thanksgiving: the start of holiday feasting and the source of January guilt. Could there be something redeeming about those delicious calorie-loaded items piled on the table? Yes. The traditional Thanksgiving menu is actually replete with healthful foods.

Here is a sampling of recent research findings about the benefits of some favorite Thanksgiving dishes. These highlights were gathered from recent research publications and conferences of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

  • Stuffing - Turkey's traditional Thanksgiving partner is rich in antioxidants, studies show. Bread crust - an ingredient in most stuffing - is more healthful than the rest of the bread and crust-rich stuffing is packed with antioxidants. Thomas Hofmann, Ph.D., formerly with the German Research Center of Food Chemistry reported this finding in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

  • Cranberries - This Thanksgiving staple is known to be packed with antioxidants, but new studies suggest that cranberries also can aid recovery from stroke. The red berries, famous in Thanksgiving sauces, may protect brain cells from death after a stroke, according to findings presented at the September national meeting of the American Chemical Society by Catherine Neto, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.

  • Corn - Reminiscent of the first Thanksgiving, the meal just wouldn't be the same without corn, and studies show that canned corn may be healthier for you than corn on the cob. Researchers at Cornell University say that heat processing of sweet corn significantly raises the level of naturally occurring compounds that help fight disease, including cancer and heart disease. The study was reported by Rui Hai Liu, M.D., Ph.D., in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

  • Coffee - For many people, an autumn feast would not be complete without a steaming cup of joe. A newly identified antioxidant found in coffee is particularly potent at preventing colon cancer, according to a recent study. The research, led by Thomas Hofmann, Ph.D., of the University of Mnster in Germany, was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry this month.

  • Hot Cocoa - Colder weather just begs for a warm mug of hot cocoa. Scientists have found that hot cocoa tops both red wine and tea in antioxidants, chemicals that have been shown to fight cancer, heart disease and aging. Chang Yong Lee, Ph.D., from Cornell University examined the benefits of the popular beverage in a study published online this month in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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Recipe for Cranberry Chutney
(courtesy of the Belmont Conference Center in Maryland)

2c dried cranberries
1c red wine
1c orange juice
1/2c red wine vinegar
1c sugar
1tsp garlic
1Tbl fresh ginger
1/4c diced onion
1/2 stick cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
pinch cloves
pinch red flake pepper
to taste salt

Combine all ingredients and bring to simmer until thickened (approx. 45 min-1hr).

EDITOR'S NOTE: The cranberry recipe is courtesy of the American Chemical Society's Belmont Conference Center in Elkridge, Md. An historic manor built in 1738, Belmont is located on 85 acres of rolling hills and fields, surrounded by Patapsco State Park, about 35 miles from Washington, D.C. Open year-round, Belmont is available for meetings, retreats, training seminars, weddings, company picnics and holiday receptions.

The research findings in this release were the subject of previous news releases issued by the American Chemical Society. Synopses of these findings are being reissued because of their relevance to Thanksgiving.

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