Our choices for the three worst foods you could possibly serve this Thanksgiving

Posted by
November 25, 2014




Okay, we know it’s almost Thanksgiving, and we certainly don’t want to put a damper on the festive Norman Rockwell-type dinner you may be planning.

What we would like to do, however, is help you to avoid certain products that are being promoted as ideal for the occasion, but which can only serve to mar your holiday feast with some very unhealthy and undesirable ingredients.

While there are undoubtedly a number of items fitting that description that are now being sold in your local supermarket, we’d like to “talk turkey” about three in particular that we found being prominently displayed at ours.

So here, in descending order, are what we consider to be the very worst “foods” you could put on your Thanksgiving table – and some suggested alternatives:

Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce

“Ocean Spray cranberry sauce has been a tradition at our table for generations,” says the copy on the can. But one thing that was not part of that “tradition” was the high fructose corn syrup this “sauce” contains, which various studies have linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease pancreatic cancer, and other serious health problems.

Instead of ruining something that has so many health benefits, you might want to try a brand with no HFCS – like Woodstock Farms or Pacific Organic Jellied Cranberry Sauce. Or better yet, with just a little extra effort, you can serve “real homemade” cranberry sauce by buying a bag of whole cranberries in the produce section, on which you’ll usually find a recipe.  Combine cranberries, sugar and water and cook on a low heat till the berries “pop.” It’s that simple!

Kraft Stove Top Savory Herbs Stuffing Mix

“If it’s not Stove Top, it’s not Thanksgiving,” goes the slogan on a commercial that shows an actor dressed as a pilgrim who “faked an attack of scurvy” to get out of a Thanksgiving dinner that didn’t include Stove Top.

Unfortunately, including this kind of stuffing in your festivities might just cause some guests to suffer symptoms similar to his simulated scurvy attack. That’s because two of its ingredients are the neurotoxic flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate and hydrolyzed soy protein, a related form of free glutamate, which have been associated with a whole range of adverse reactions that include migraines, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, seizures, rage reactions and atrial fibrillation (to name just a few). And that’s not the only unsavory stuff this stuffing is made of. It also contains high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil, which the Food and Drug Administration has identified as a cause of heart disease and about 7,000 fatal heart attacks a year (and has now been linked to memory loss), and the petroleum-based preservatives BHA and BHT, which are banned or restricted in other countries.

If you don’t have time to make your own stuffing by following one of the recipes offered on the Internet, try an organic brand like Arrowhead Mills Organic Savory Herb Stuffing .

Betty Crocker Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Mix

This cake mix really takes the cake as a coronary just waiting to happen – especially if one of your dinner guests suffers from a pre-existing heart condition. While the front of the package advertises that it’s made “with real pineapple,” and talks about calories (350 per serving), saturated fat (2.5 grams), sodium and sugars, what you learn by looking at the Nutrition Facts Panel is that it contains enough partially hydrogenated oil to make for a whopping 3 grams of trans fat per serving! (Keep in mind that most products containing PHOs take advantage of the loophole that allows anything with .5 grams or less per serving to be listed as zero.)

And that’s not to mention the aluminum it contains in the form of sodium aluminum phosphate – a substance that has now been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. (And don’t forget that new research linking PHO consumption to memory loss, providing a kind of double whammy for your brain as well.)  In short, if we were giving an award for the very worst thing you could put on your Thanksgiving table, the pineapple upside-down cake made from this mix would win hands-down.

If your heart’s set on a pineapple upside down cake for dessert (and, yes, pineapple, like cranberries, has numerous health benefits), you’re best off making one yourself, using organic ingredients whenever possible and following a recipe like the one offered at this site. (And remember, when you buy baking powder, make sure it’s free of aluminum.)

Just remember – by avoiding products with the kinds of atrocious (and unnecessary) additives found in the above troublesome trio, you can help assure that your Thanksgiving celebration will be a far healthier one. And that will make it a lot happier for everyone at your table.

Bill Bonvie’s newly published essay collection “Repeat Offenders” is now available at Amazon.com