The typical Thanksgiving can clock in at as many as 3,000 to 4,500 calories, an uncomfortably-full belly and a day of "physical activity" that includes little more than lifting fork to mouth.
However, some of the season's healthiest superfoods are present at your Thanksgiving table -- although many may be disguised by butter, oil or whipped cream. It's fitting, considering the origins of the holiday as a celebration of the autumn harvest, that some of September, October and November's best produce shines in this festive meal. Here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving superfoods, plus healthy ways to enjoy them. Let us know your healthiest Turkey Day dishes in the comments!
<strong>Why we love them:</strong> Loaded with antioxidants, these little red berries are also <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/29/healthy-food-healthiest-list_n_1636409.html#slide=1161400">powerful bacteria fighters</a> and are known for preventing urinary tract infections. <strong>How to enjoy them:</strong> Commercially-prepared sauces and juices often contain <a href="http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/cranberry-000235.htm">lots of added sugar</a> -- to combat the naturally tart taste of cranberries. <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20318484,00.html">Make your own sauces and relishes instead</a> or try adding them to <a href="http://www.cookinglight.com/food/in-season/in-season-cranberries-00400000003332/">pies, cobblers or other festive baked goods</a>.
<strong>Why we love them:</strong> That bright orange hue is a good sign that antioxidants abound. Sweet potatoes are particularly rich in beta-carotene and vitamins A and C, beneficial for fighting off colds and dull winter skin. They're also a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/02/november-superfoods_n_2059514.html">good source of fiber and potassium</a>. <strong>How to enjoy them:</strong> Skip the <a href="http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandforums/blogs/badaily/2011/11/top-10-least-healthy-thanksgiv.html">marshmallow-topped casseroles</a>, please. Try sweets in an alternative to those creamy, buttery mashed potatoes you're used to having at Thanksgiving. Or switch things up completely by roasting them or serving them pureed into soup.
<strong>Why we love them:</strong> One of our <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/29/healthy-food-healthiest-list_n_1636409.html#slide=1162135">healthiest foods of all time</a>, Brussels sprouts are <a href="http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/foods/cruciferous/">in the same cruciferous family</a> as broccoli, cabbage, kale and other beloved healthy greens that seem to offer some protection against certain cancers. They're <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/05/superfoods_n_1184465.html#s589596&title=Brussels_Sprouts">loaded with fiber</a>, low in calories and <a href="http://www.self.com/health/blogs/healthyself/2011/10/brussels-sprouts-theyre-tastie.html">packed with vitamin C</a>. <strong>How to enjoy them:</strong> Roast 'em with a bit of olive oil, or <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/05/superfoods_n_1184465.html#s589596&title=Brussels_Sprouts">try slicing them thin into a winter slaw</a>, Keri Gans, registered dietitian and author of "The Small Change Diet", told HuffPost in January.
<strong>Why we love them:</strong> Acorn, butternut and other winter squashes add a sweet flavor without many calories. All are rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, just like similarly-hued sweet potatoes. <strong>How to enjoy them:</strong> Like pumpkin and sweet potatoes, squash can make for a cozy starter <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/22/-butternut-squash-soup_n_1986835.html">pureed into a soup</a>. Or, try <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/02/november-superfoods_n_2059514.html#slide=1709888">roasting squash and serving with a drizzle of maple syrup</a>, Angela Ginn, R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, suggested earlier this month.
<strong>Why we love it:</strong> One of the staple flavors of fall, this <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/23/spices_n_1166877.html">holiday spice</a> packs powerful health benefits. It contains 4 grams of fiber per tablespoon and may stop you from indulging in richer sweets by quelling that sweet tooth. There's some evidence to support <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/08/healthy-herbs-spices-healthiest_n_2089007.html#slide=1732510">cinnamon helping people with diabetes and high cholesterol</a>, to boot. <strong>How to enjoy it:</strong> You'll find it in a number of classic Thanksgiving recipes, including some made with other superfoods on our list, like <a href="http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/roasted-sweet-potatoes-with-honey-butter-recipe/index.html">roasted sweet potatoes</a> or <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20439608,00.html">apple pie</a>.
<strong>Why we love them: </strong>More bright orange spotted on the table! Pumpkin, like sweet potatoes and squash, is high in vitamin A and beta-carotene, for healthy vision and immunity, and has also been <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/02/october-superfoods_n_1930091.html#slide=1587398">linked to a longer life</a>. <strong>How to enjoy them:</strong> If you're choosing between pies, pumpkin's actually a safer bet than pecan, at least, but it can still be <a href="http://www.fitsugar.com/Comparing-Nutritional-Value-Pecan-Pie-vs-Pumpkin-Pie-12068409">high in fat and sugar</a>. Snack on <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/02/october-superfoods_n_1930091.html#slide=1587398">roasted pumpkin seeds</a> for a dose of healthy fats before the big meal or try it <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/quick--easy-pumpkin-soup_n_1060080.html">pureed into soup</a> for a festive starter.
<strong>Why we love them:</strong> The quintessential fall fruit is packed with fiber, which makes you feel full on fewer calories. Ursolic acid, found in the skin of apples, has been <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/06/health-benefits-apples_n_1855590.html#slide=1470195">linked to lower risk of obesity</a>, and apples may also help ward off diabetes, memory problems <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/06/health-benefits-apples_n_1855590.html">and even cancer</a>. <strong>How to enjoy them:</strong> You're likely to find an apple pie somewhere among your Thanksgiving celebrations, which can be heavy on the fat and sugar. Instead, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/04/september-superfoods_n_1828853.html#slide=1426696">whip up an easy baked apple</a> with a little cinnamon and apple juice, Kimberly Altman, R.D., of Pritikin Longevity Center, told HuffPost in September.
<strong>Why we love it:</strong> A glass of red contains resveratrol, a compound found in red grapes with antioxidant properties that seems to offer <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/19/red-wine-health_n_1018934.html">anti-aging and heart-health benefits</a>. Not to mention, moderate drinkers seem to experience a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/25/alcohol-quality-of-life-moderate-consumption_n_1620104.html">higher quality of life</a>. <strong>How to enjoy it:</strong> In moderation, of course. That means <a href="http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/PolicyDoc/Chapter3.pdf">one glass for women and up to two for men</a>, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.