Thanksgiving is notoriously a time for overeating and indulging. But some of the main foods involved in a Thanksgiving Day meal have tons of health benefits. Our resident dietitian, Melanie Battaglia, gives us an informative breakdown of some Thanksgiving favorites and their performance benefits.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin A.

Buying tips:

  • Choose potatoes that are firm, even skin coloration, and no signs of decay.
  • Avoid storing in the refrigerator. Keep in a cool, dry, well-ventilated container, such as a basket.

Sweet Potato and White Potato Nutrition Break Down:

  • Starchy carbohydrate – Your quickest source of energy when training or racing.
  • Fiber – promotes sustainable and long lasting energy.
  • Potassium and magnesium – Necessary for muscle contraction.
  • Vitamin A in Sweet potatoes- An important nutrient for recovery and eye sight. It is an antioxidant, which helps combat oxidative stress (stress and inflammation within the body).

Fun fact:

The sweet potato is not a potato. It belongs to the morning glory family, which is a family of herbs, shrubs, and small trees inhibiting warm regions. While the sweet potato and white potato are completely unrelated, their uses are similar.


Brussel sprouts 

Brussel sprouts are a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, iron, and fiber. Vitamin C is important for immune function to help reduce risk of sickness.

Cooking tips:

Look for smaller, firm sprouts, consistent in green color. Cut a cross across the base of the brussel sprout about a quarter inch deep to promote even heating into the center of the brussel sprout. Cook the brussel sprouts with citrus, such as orange juice, to cut the bitter taste.



Turkey is a lean protein and a good source of selenium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamin B3. Selenium is a trace mineral that has antioxidant properties.

White Meat vs. Red Meat

Turkey contains both white and red meat. White meat is leaner and higher in protein. Red meat is higher in fat and iron.

Turkey Tips

The most foodborne illness hospitalizations occur around Thanksgiving and Christmas. The safest way to thaw your turkey is the refrigerator. Allow 24 hours of time to defrost for every 4 to 5 pounds of turkey. Keep fresh produce on shelves above raw meat to avoid contamination. Cook your turkey until it reaches 165 degrees.


Why do I feel so tired after eating on Thanksgiving?

Turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, which is known to be associated with sleepiness. However, the amount of turkey eaten on Thanksgiving would not provide enough tryptophan to cause sleepiness. The Thanksgiving “food coma” is likely due to a combination of over eating, eating extra carbs, and/or alcohol.