The turkey toll

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Heart disease, Obesity

The turkey's gone, except for the bits still wrapped up in the
fridge ready for sandwiches. So does that mean you're off scot-free
from the caloric carnage of Thanksgiving Day? Unfortunately,
nutritionists say "no".

Nutritional rules are generally brushed away on days like these, when portion control is measured by whether or not you can sit comfortably with your trousers zipped up. And while you can wipe away the signs of Thanksgiving dinner from your house, nutritionists say it only takes one very high calorie, high fat meal to increase your risk for heart attack or stroke.

Caloric estimates of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner range between 2000 and 4500. A hefty surplus when taking into account the fact that the average recommended caloric intake for relatively active people is between 1600 and 2400 calories per day.

Festive meals aside, Americans are already a high-risk group for heart disease. About 64 percent of all US adults are overweight, 30 percent of whom are obese, according to the US Food & Drug Administration.

Overeating and sedentary lifestyles have been identified as indisputable contributing factors to the nation's high death rate from heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease claimed 910,614 lives in 2003 - or 37.3 percent of all deaths. This is almost double the entire death toll for all forms of cancer in the same year.

But the news on the turkey front is not all bad. For starters, turkey is a lean source of protein.

And our forefathers (or mothers) didn't get it all wrong when concocting the various delicious dishes this dinner entails. Potatoes bring potassium and you can reap the benefits of beta-carotene from sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.

The same can't be said of the trimmings though - be it gravy, butter, salt or whipped cream.

So how can you help to undo some of yesterday's damage today you may ask? The consensus across the board is to put on your walking shoes, go outside and get some exercise.

And looking forwards, start planning a lower calorie Christmas dinner. This can be done by trimming some of the fat off your turkey broth, inserting new additions such as fresh fruit and vegetables, eliminating butter and using lower-fat milk versions wherever you use cream.

Try to keep it a secret and see if anyone notices the difference!

Related topics: Weight management, Cardiovascular health

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