This Thursday, most of us are going to sit down to one of the most sumptuous feasts we’ll have all year — Thanksgiving dinner. While this day isn’t known for its dietary restraint, there are a few foods on your table that can actually be quite beneficial to your dental health — as well as a few you should consider avoiding. Below, we’ve listed out which Thanksgiving foods are dentist-approved and how you can get the most nutrition out of your meal.
The big bird is actually quite good for your chompers, thanks to all of that great protein. Consider choosing leaner white meat from the breast instead of fattier dark meat, and go easy on salty gravy for a main course that won’t hurt your teeth or your waistline.
2. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are often covered in sugar and topped with marshmallows on Thanksgiving, which is a big dental no-no — all of that sticky sugar is going to wreak havoc on your teeth! A more nutritious preparation is to simply coat the spuds in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast in the oven until crispy and tender. The natural vitamin C in sweet potatoes along with the olive oil helps promote healthy gums, which is certainly something to smile about.
3. Cranberry Sauce
This is another Thanksgiving staple that, like sweet potatoes, can either be friend or foe. Many store bought jars of cranberry sauce come loaded with added sugar, so be sure to check the table to make sure you’re not buying glorified candy. Cranberries have lots of natural vitamins C and A, plus potassium. We recommend buying a bag of fresh or frozen cranberries and cooking them down yourself — just add a little water, a little bit of sugar, and simmer until thickened.
4. Mashed Potatoes
Potatoes also have dental-friendly vitamins A and C, and combined with calcium-rich low-fat milk and a little butter, this side dish isn’t too bad for your teeth. Mashed potatoes are quite starchy, though, and that starch will break down into sugars that could cause cavities if left unchecked. So, watch your portion size and make sure you brush your teeth after dinner, and you’ll be all set.
It’s okay to indulge during Thanksgiving dinner, but being aware of what’s in your meal and the effects it can have on your health are important to keep in mind as well. No matter what kind of meal you have, don’t forget to floss, brush, and rinse thoroughly with mouthwash after you eat. That will help get rid of any residue and sugars that can hurt your teeth long after dinner is done.