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Heart-Healthy Recipes for Your Thanksgiving Day Meal

by Lauren Neale | Published December 21, 2023 | Reviewed by John Krahnert

As the holiday season approaches, so does the temptation to eat unhealthy foods. Baked goods such as cookies, pies, and pumpkin spice treats as well as rich foods like sweet potato casserole are more pervasive this time of year as people prepare to host large gatherings of family and friends on Thanksgiving.

For many seniors, the holiday season is a time to remain vigilant on their healthy eating habits so that they continue to reap the positive health benefits all year round. The older the human body gets, there is a potential uptick of changes in the heart and blood vessels that could lead to cardiovascular disease.1 Instituting and maintaining a heart-healthy diet, even during the holidays, can help protect and sustain good heart health.

3 Heart-Healthy Recipes for Thanksgiving

But staying healthy does not mean sacrificing good food during the holiday season! A great way to enjoy all of the holiday food without derailing healthy habits is creating some of these heart healthy dishes for your Thanksgiving meal!

1. Green Bean Casserole with Walnut Crust

Just because you are being conscious of what you eat, does not mean that it has to be boring or bland! Replace the bread crumb topping or the fried onions on your green bean casserole with a healthier alternative: walnuts. According to cardiovascular disease research, walnuts are full of fiber and micronutrients that help prevent heart disease.2

Weaving tree nuts into your Thanksgiving meal is a great way to support heart healthy eating habits! This recipe replaces some of the bread crumb topping of the green bean casserole with walnuts to not only make it lower in calories, but also prioritize good heart health.

2. Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Why not add some zing to your mashed potatoes by adding in a heart-healthy ingredient: garlic! Garlic possesses a compound called allicin, which research has shown can reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol as well as support heart health.3

To get the best health benefits out of garlic, crush it and let it rest for a few minutes before cooking. This process allows the allicin to form, creating a more potent health punch than cooking it immediately.3

This year, consider using this recipe as part of your Thanksgiving menu.

3. Mixed Berry Crisp

Instead of turning to pumpkin pie or spiced cake for your dessert this Thanksgiving, consider making a berry cobbler or crisp as an alternative. Berries are full of antioxidants, which help fight against inflammation and support heart health.

Along with this, whole grains including oatmeal, can also add a healthy component to your sweet treats. This Mixed Berry Crisp recipe calls for both berries and oatmeal to help promote heart health in this easy, delicious dessert!

The recipe calls for mixed berries, but could easily be modified with one particular berry instead. Depending on what berry you choose can impact the health benefits you gain.

Here is a list of some of the health benefits provided by different kinds of berries.

  • Blueberries: filled with antioxidants that help boost your immune system and may protect you from cancer, heart disease, and dementia.
  • Blackberries: can cut down inflammation that leads to heart disease and aids your small intestine process sugar more effectively.
  • Strawberries: filled with antioxidants and vitamin C that may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Raspberries: can help with stomach pain and may protect against cancer.4

Whatever berry you choose for your dessert, have peace of mind knowing that you are providing your body with a healthier option!

Thanksgiving is a time of togetherness, gratitude, and delicious food. Many people throw caution to the wind and disregard healthy options this time of year. Yet those who are careful about what they eat can still participate in the joys of good food while maintaining their healthy habits.

Seniors who want to maintain good heart health during the holiday season can use the recipes listed above to make their Thanksgiving meal both delicious and healthy. By creating these recipes for your holiday events, you will not only be enjoying the Thanksgiving fun, but will also be supporting your body’s heart health.



1 National Institute on Aging - Heart Health and Aging. National Institute of Health. 2018.,risk%20of%20developing%20cardiovascular%20disease.

2 National Library of Medicine - Nuts and Cardiovascular Disease Prevention. National Institute of Health. 2018.

3 Nutrition - 15 Incredibly Heart-Healthy Foods. Healthline. 2022.  

4 Diet and Weight Management - Berries and Their Health Benefits. Nourish by WebMD. 2022.

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