Hep C Lifestyle Guide: Good and Bad Thanksgiving Meal Sides
Healthfully enjoying a food-centric holiday like Thanksgiving requires additional menu planning for people with chronic Hepatitis C. A Thanksgiving feast presents the opportunity to choose dishes that support the liver’s health and dissuade the Hepatitis C virus from causing damage. On the other hand, ignoring nutritional information can be harmful, because many traditional Thanksgiving side dishes possess the ability to exacerbate Hepatitis C infection.
The star of most Thanksgiving meals is turkey, a relatively lean, protein-packed meat that is low-fat and packed with liver-friendly vitamins and minerals. As such, turkey breast meat without skin is considered to be an ideal dietary choice for those with Hepatitis C. However, many of the side dishes that typically accompany turkey may or may not be conducive to liver wellness.
4 Hep-C Friendly Side Dishes
Although the four side dishes described below are supportive of a liver with Hepatitis C, they certainly are not exclusive. Instead, they can serve as a springboard for your inner chef to combine foods that encourage liver detoxification and cell renewal while discouraging liver inflammation and damage:
- Beet and Apple Salad – Besides being delicious and colorful, combining roasted beets with freshly sliced apples and topping with a dressing made of horseradish and apple cider vinegar gives a liver with Hepatitis C a great nutritional boost. Apples and beets help with liver detoxification and beets contain betain, a substance that defends the liver against damage.
- Baked Sweet Potatoes – This sweet side dish is naturally creamy and addictive while offering benefits to those with Hepatitis C. The sweet potato is loaded with antioxidants and substances that reduce inflammatory responses throughout the body. Since the Hepatitis C virus damages liver cells by creating an inflammatory response, sweet potato consumption is a good idea. Baking a sweet potato at 350° for about 1-1½ hours will leave it soft, tender and sweet, eliminating the need for adding fat or sweeteners to make it tasty.
- Shaved Brussel Sprouts with Lemon – Lightly sautéing shaved brussel sprouts and red onions, then dressing it with fresh lemon (zest and juice) could be a surprising new favorite. In addition to having a yummy flavor, brussel sprouts contain potent anti-carcinogenic compounds. Since advanced Hepatitis C could lead to cancer, all assistance deflecting liver cancer is welcome. Improving the reception of this dish even further, lemon is one of the biggest liver allies – aiding in detoxification, oxidizing free radicals, strengthening immunity and helping to fight viral infections.
- Quinoa Stuffing with Walnuts, Cranberry and Artichoke – Stuffing, or dressing, is a quintessential Thanksgiving staple, and is often responsible for expanding our waistlines. Full of protein, vitamins and fiber, quinoa creates a great, low glycemic index structure for stuffing and a good carb for anyone living with a chronic illness. Walnuts help detoxify the liver. Artichoke increases bile production to remove toxins and has the ability to help liver cells regenerate. Cranberry protects the liver from free radicals, thins and decongests bile and has a strong iron chelating ability – helping the liver to remove toxic drugs and metals.
4 Thanksgiving Sides to Skip
On the other side of the fence, there are plenty of common culinary traditions served on Thanksgiving that can aggravate Hepatitis C infection. The Hep C virus flourishes when the liver is inflamed, a consequence of eating certain pro-inflammatory foods. Culprits include full-fat dairy products which are high in arachidonic acid (a pro-inflammatory substance), trans fat, saturated fat, oxidized fat, sugar and foods with a high glycemic index. Thus, steer clear of:
- Spinach Salad with Bacon and Candied Pecans – Spinach is a healthy vegetable, but this salad’s liver health score plummets with the addition of bacon and candied pecans. Bacon contains heterocyclic amines which increase the risk of cancer and is high in saturated fat, while candied nuts contain a great deal of sugar.
- Candied Yams – In and of themselves, yams are full of nutrients. However, candied yams go overboard with added sugar, often containing brown sugar, maple syrup and marshmallows.
- Green Bean Casserole – There’s nothing wrong with green beans, but this popular holiday dish is loaded with cream, salt and fried onions which load on arachidonic acid and oxidized fat.
- Sausage Stuffing – It’s nearly impossible to legitimize the liver health value of this Thanksgiving favorite. Sausage is usually full of saturated fat and oxidized fats, while white bread typically used for stuffing is very high on the glycemic index.
It is possible to have a delicious Thanksgiving meal that your family and friends will rave about – and you can feel good about. With so many delicious culinary options for holiday foods that support a liver with Hepatitis C, there is no reason to resort to inflammatory-provoking side dishes. Happy Thanksgiving!
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