Thanksgiving will be here before you know it, and you’re probably starting to plan your feast. Some of your favorite Thanksgiving foods are delicious, but the bacteria in your mouth also love them. This is one of the biggest times of the year for bacteria to attack your teeth. You can still enjoy your delicious meal, but save your teeth and health too! Try these alternative dishes to have a healthier Thanksgiving this year.

Cranberries: Cranberries contain natural enzymes that help prevent glucans from forming,  and S. mutans and other bacteria are unable to damage your teeth without glucans. Cranberries are also are good source of vitamin C, and they contain proanthocyandins, an antioxidant that can improve urinary health and help you avoid urinary tract infections. Cranberries also protect against liver, breast, and colon cancers. The isolated compounds in cranberries are helpful to your teeth, as well.

Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, potassium, and antioxidants like vitamin C and beta-carotene. The veggie offers many healthy nutrients, but in Thanksgiving casserole form, with marshmallows, brown sugar, and butter, it is fattening. Try eating natural baked or mashed sweet potatoes, instead of the sweet casserole.

Pumpkin: Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A, fiber, and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids (the “good” fats). Pumpkin also provides the eye-healthy phytochemicals, lutein and zeaxanthin. Pumpkin in a natural form is low in calories and very healthy. However, to become a Thanksgiving delight, pumpkin is usually mixed with sugar, shortening, cream, and pie crust that can feed bacteria and increase your waistline.

Green beans: Green beans are a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, potassium, and iron. This super-healthy vegetable can be turned into a delicious Thanksgiving green bean casserole, but it means adding butter, cream of mushroom, cheese, and fried onion rings, which make for a fatty and unhealthy dish. Instead, try roasting fresh vegetables or serving fresh, herb-ed green beans.

Turkey: We can’t forget the main bird! Turkey is an excellent source of protein and iron. It’s also lower in fat than most meats. To keep your body healthy, avoid eating the fatty skin, and keep in mind that white meat has less fat and fewer calories than dark meat.

You can still enjoy your Thanksgiving meal by choosing healthy food preparation methods. Adding sugars and spices to your dishes can give the bacteria in your mouth more sugar to feed off of and attack your teeth. After feasting, brush your teeth and rinse your mouth to protect your teeth from any lingering bacteria. Dr. Locke can suggest other ways to keep your mouth healthy this holiday season. Call (254) 776-4888 to schedule an appointment with our dental office in Waco, Texas.