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Hey! Even the Stuffing's Good for You

From veggies to cranberry sauce to dessert, antioxidants abound in the traditional holiday meal.

THURSDAY, Nov. 28, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- When you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal this year, you can give thanks for the health benefits of the food you're about to eat.

That's because the traditional Thanksgiving meal provides a bounty of healthy kinds of food, including those rich in disease-fighting antioxidants.

The American Chemical Society offers a menu from recent studies that examined the health rewards of favorite Thanksgiving fare.

If you have honey-baked turkey or ham, you may be pleasing your heart as well as your stomach. That's because honey contains antioxidants that may help protect you against heart disease, says a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign study.

Honey offers a range of antioxidants comparable to apples, bananas, oranges, and strawberries and also prolongs the freshness of meat, protects against off-flavors, and guards against harmful byproducts of meat oxidation that can increase heart disease risk.

Everyone loves stuffing, and here's even more reason to love it. A German study says bread crust is a rich source of cancer-fighting antioxidants, and bread stuffing is made with lots of crust.

That turkey dinner just wouldn't be complete without cranberries, which are full of a type of antioxidant believed to reduce the risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease, says a University of Scranton study.

Even canned corn is a disease fighter, and the canned variety may actually offer you more health benefits than corn on the cob, says a Cornell University study. The heat processing done on canned sweet corn significantly increases the level of naturally occurring compounds that fight disease, including cancer and heart disease.

How about some collard greens with your meal? They're a good source of lutein, an antioxidant that may protect your eyes by reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration, which is a common cause of blindness.

Lutein is also abundant in other dark-green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale.

Herbs are another good source of cancer-fighting antioxidants. U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers found that oregano has the highest antioxidant activity. Dill, thyme and rosemary are also good sources of antioxidants.

Finally, you might think that dessert would be an antioxidant desert. Not so. Have some sweet potato or pumpkin pie. They offer big servings of alpha-and beta-carotene. They're chemical precursors of vitamin A, which promotes healthy vision.

More Information

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about antioxidants.

SOURCE: American Chemical Society, news release, November 2002
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