Lots of Americans enjoy cranberry sauce as a part of the holiday spread at Thanksgiving, but few of them have actually looked at the nutritional values in this food. Knowing more about what's in your holiday foods can help you make good decisions when it's time to dig into that seasonal feast.
When it comes to calories, cranberry sauce is moderately high. It's not as high as many of the processed foods on the average supermarket shelf or daily menu. However, it's higher than lots of fresh fruits and vegetables that you might measure it against, being that it is based on a powerfully tangy little berry. For a serving of about 300 grams of cranberry sauce, the calorie count would be over 400. That means serving up a hefty dose of this side item can add up to a lot of calories.
Fats and Sugars
The same serving of cranberry sauce would contain more than 80 milligrams of sodium, not a huge amount, but enough to make a difference in an otherwise sodium-laden meal. There's not a lot of fat or cholesterol in cranberry sauce, but there is a lot of sugar, especially since most varieties need to be sweetened in order to cut the taste of the cranberry. Sugary versions of the sauce might contain up to 105 grams of sugars, which is quite a bit of sweetening, though not on par with the sugar-loaded drinks and candies also found on many holiday tables. Of course, all of this depends on what makers add to the canned sauces, but as a rule, high sugar content is a common standard.
As far as "the good stuff," cranberry sauce does have 1 gram of protein, as well as a significant amount of vitamins A, C, E and K and other essential vitamins and minerals that the body needs to stay healthy. A lot of this stuff is in the natural cranberry itself, which doesn't stay in the same healthy category while being drenched with sugary gelatin. One alternative is to drink cranberry juice, unsweetened or more lightly sweetened, to get some of the nutrition without the high sugar factor.
A brief look at items like cranberry sauce can help you to plan diet-friendly Thanksgiving meals where more of the good stuff shows up on the table, without a lot of the extra fat and sugar content that tends to sink individual diet and fitness plans. More people are looking at how to make the Thanksgiving dinner less threatening to health and fitness goals, from researching turkey alternatives to paring down the calorie counts in sides like stuffing and whipped potatoes. A lot of simple choices can change the health values of this annual food-fest, and while it might not be the way our pilgrim ancestors did it, these kinds of changes can be good for your family.