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A Thanksgiving feast for your ears

Contributed by | Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

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Thanksgiving. It's the most coveted meal of the year. Considering Americans consume 242 million turkeys each year – 30 percent of that during the holiday alone – it's safe to say we look forward to Thanksgiving each year for the food (and time spent with loved ones, of course). But, what we put on the table is good for more than just stuffing your belly. A number of nutrients found in traditional Thanksgiving dishes have been linked to healthy hearing, meaning you won’t have to feel guilty about bellying up for seconds (or thirds). 

Check our handy list below for vital healthy hearing nutrients found in your favorite Thanksgiving dishes. 

hearing health foods
Sweet potatoes are loaded with potassium! 
Include these in your holiday dinner to help
boost hearing health!

Potassium

Potassium helps regulate fluid in the inner ear, which in turn regulates balance and tinnitus. When the nutrients that make up the inner ear fluid are out of sync, conditions such as Meniere’s Disease can develop. Meniere’s Disease causes episodes of dizziness, tinnitus and a sense of fullness in the ears. Eating the right amount of potassium, which is plentiful in many common foods, can help prevent Meniere’s Disease from occurring.

Sweet potatoes are a Thanksgiving staple, and just so happen to be chock full of potassium. Love green bean casserole? You’re in luck, because beans are also a great source of the nutrient. And don’t let your little ones run away without loading up their plates with some of your aunt’s roasted butternut squash, since the vegetable is also high in the nutrient. Turkey is too so be sure to plan for leftover turkey sandwiches.

Folic Acid

Studies have shown that an insufficient level of folates in the body is linked to an increased risk of age-related hearing loss. Deficient folic acid could also cause elevated levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which could lead to stroke and heart disease.

Dark, leafy greens like spinach and arugula are rich in folates, so mix some into a hummus for a starter or snack before the meal or into a salad during dinner. Brussels sprouts also boast a high folic acid count; coat them with olive oil or bacon grease (you know you made bacon this morning!) and roast them for the big day. Broccoli is also rich in folic acid; work it into a side dish – raw or par-steamed – or let simply chop it up and serve with some vegetable dip. 

Magnesium

Magnesium helps maintain normal nerve function, which consequently helps reduce your chances of tinnitus. Since many forms of tinnitus have no cure, keeping a nutrient-rich diet is important to help keep your hearing in as tip-top shape as possible.

Whole wheat bread is rich in magnesium, so choose this hearty grain for your Thanksgiving dinner roll.  Quinoa, an ancient Peruvian grain, is another dish loaded with the nutrient and has fewer carbohydrates, if you’re trying to watch your calorie intake. On the flip side, if you're a pie lover, don't fret about indulging in that second piece of pecan pie, as nuts are also a good source of magnesium.

Zinc

The inner ear has an extremely high concentration of zinc, a mineral which has been linked to reduction in tinnitus and presbycusis. Because of this, maintaining a diet rich in zinc is essential to maintaining healthy hearing.

Oysters were part of the first Thanksgiving. Though they aren't typical to today's menu, if your family is in the mood for something a little different this year, shellfish are a great way to get your daily dose of zinc. Otherwise, set out a bowl of nuts like cashews, almonds and pistachios as a pre-dinner snack for the hungry relatives prowling around the kitchen.

While Thanksgiving often tends to be an indulgent meal, it's good to know that while you're saying thanks, you'll also be helping your hearing health. Beyond the holiday season, keep in mind that a wide variety of nutrients are found in everyday foods. Thanksgiving is a time to recognize and appreciate what you have in life. If that includes a set of healthy ears, give thanks by feeding them the food they deserve.

Roasted Bacon Brussels Sprouts

bacon Brussels sprouts

(makes 6 servings)

Prep Time:

15 minutes

Cook Time:

25 minutes

Yield: makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

- 1 lb Brussels sprouts
- 3 slices bacon, chopped
- 2 small shallots, diced
- 2 TBS olive oil
- coarse sea salt, to taste

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine Brussels sprouts, chopped bacon, diced shallots and one tablespoon of olive oil. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and spread Brussels sprouts out, cut-side down. Sprinkle coarse sea salt on top to taste and drizzle with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes or until a soft brown.

We're always on the lookout for your favorite recipes. Make sure to share your holiday meal plans below!

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