Well, it’s that time of the year again. Make way for the shopping, decorating, and excessive eating that accompanies the holiday season. And now that Halloween is behind us, Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, which means a break from school, the opportunity to see family, and, of course, pie.
Okay, I know the “healthiness” of pie is a relative term. Pie is definitely not a health food. But let’s be real — who’s going to deny themselves a slice of this magical dessert this Thanksgiving? Major props to anyone who has the self-control not to overindulge at the dinner table on Nov. 24. I’m definitely not among you disciplined people. However, even if you lack the willpower, you can still choose your pie wisely. Not all pies are created equal. So that’s why I’ve ranked a few family favorites from worst to best. The worst slice of pie you can serve yourself? Pecan. The best? Pumpkin. Everything in between? See the list below:
5. Pecan (540 calories/slice): Okay, so we’ve all been taught that nuts are good for us. Yes, they contain a lot of fat, but it’s the good-for-you type of fat called unsaturated fat. Unsaturated fat reduces your bad cholesterol levels (LDL) while raising your good cholesterol levels (HDL). However it’s best to enjoy nuts in moderation (Five pecans have the same fat content as a tablespoon of butter!) Pecan is one of the highest-calorie pies out there, so if you’re going to enjoy a slice, make sure you’re not overindulging.
4. Chocolate pie (360 calories/slice): Attention all chocolate lovers out there: chocolate pie is not waistline-friendly! Tragic, I know. Its biggest problem is the high sugar content with not many health benefits to compensate for it. However, this still isn’t going to stop me from snagging a slice after dinner. Or two.
3. Cherry pie (340 calories/slice): Ah, fruit pie. How we love pairing fruit and dessert. We can almost convince ourselves that we’re choosing a healthy option when we include some of Mother Nature’s sweetest produce! Cherries are great for you because they contain anthocyanins, which contribute to blood vessel strength and lung health. However, fruit contains a lot of sugar (albeit, natural sugar, which makes it much better than other sweet pies) so it’s best to watch how many times you go back to the pie pan.
2. Apple pie (340 calories/slice): If you’ve read any of my other health articles, you’ll know how much I love apples and all the benefits that come with this delicious and nutritious fruit. But apple pie’s ranking on this list is less about the apples and more about its other incredibly healthy ingredient: cinnamon. Yes, cinnamon. This is an amazing spice that really deserves its own article because it’s so good for you. Regarding Thanksgiving, cinnamon is one of the best spices you can add to your meal because it stabilizes your blood sugar levels. Eating a large meal (i.e. Thanksgiving dinner) dramatically increases your blood sugar levels. When this happens, you’ll feel sleepy and your body will secrete a lot of insulin to try to pull the sugar back into your cells. Later, this will lead to a “sugar crash” and you’ll be crankier than if you had never had a blood sugar spike in the first place. (Plus, you’ll store a lot less fat if your cells don’t feel the need to convert all the extra sugars into glycogen)
1. Pumpkin (300 calories/slice): If you’re looking for a healthy indulgence, pumpkin is the way to go. If you need help justifying your sweet tooth, just remember pumpkin is technically a vegetable so therefore it must be healthy. (Okay, not healthy, but arguably healthier than all the other pies on the list!) Pumpkin’s orange color comes from the compound beta-carotene, which you may know as Vitamin A. Vitamin A is one of the most important vitamins for your eyesight and has also been shown to help to fight prostate cancer. An average slice of pumpkin pie weighs in at around 300 calories, so even though it’s a good choice, eating a whole pie by yourself might have some negative effects.
When it comes to Thanksgiving, moderation is key. Pie is still a dessert. But if there’s ever a day to treat yourself, Thanksgiving is it!