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Thanksgiving: The healthiest holiday of all

turkeyThanksgiving is – and has always been – my all-time favorite holiday.  And now I have another reason (actually 10 of them) to love this day.  And so do you.  Here are the Top Ten Reasons Thanksgiving is the Ultimate Anti-Aging Holiday:

10. Family gatherings where you spend time with people younger than you are helps you “think young,” which translates into real biological benefits like lower blood pressure.

9. Cleaning the house before the guests arrive is good exercise.  Integrating functional physical activity into your life is probably the single most successful long-term anti-aging strategy there is.

8. Cooking turkey is one of the least anxiety-producing culinary activities you can engage in and still call yourself a cook.  Lower anxiety is linked to longer telomeres.  Longer telomeres are linked to a healthier, longer life.

7. Eating your largest meal mid-day is a proven weight-control strategy.  Maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of avoiding chronic illnesses (diabetes, heart disease) that decrease quality of life and shorten lifespan.

6. Turkey (breast) is a high-quality, super-lean source of protein.  Protein helps build muscle.  A favorable fat-to-lean ratio is a biomarker of youthfulness.

5.  Pine nuts or hazelnuts in the dressing (made with celery, mushrooms, tons of garlic and onions sautéed in olive oil, mixed with toasted multi-grain bread crumbs).  Oh yes! A study from researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School reported that people who regular consumed nuts were less likely to die from a variety of diseases, most significantly cancer, heart disease and respiratory diseases. Nut eaters also tended to be leaner.  (I am guessing their nut-eating did not include slabs of pecan pie… so cross that off your list for tomorrow’s dessert.)

4.  Cranberries have powerful anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory – and perhaps even anti-cancer – properties.

3. The Center for Science in the Public Interest rates sweet potatoes as the number one most nutritious vegetable.  One cup of sweet potatoes (no, not carpeted in brown sugar and dotted with marshmallows) contains 65% of RDA of Vitamin C – a powerful anti-oxidant — and a walloping dose of beta-carotene (which converts to vitamin A in the body) that equals 700% of RDA. Vitamin A is key for good vision and a healthy immune system.

2. Giving thanks and being thankful are signs of self-efficacy and optimism, traits that are associated with greater health and well-being, and a longer lifespan.

And the #1 reason Thanksgiving is the ultimate anti-aging holiday:

1. It’s a holiday that demands no gift-giving!  No gift-giving means less stress.  Less stress means less cortisol. Less cortisol means less inflammation. Chronic inflammation is linked to just about everything you don’t want to happen to you.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

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