Revealed: The hidden health benefits of your Christmas dinner - and why you should never leave your Brussel sprouts
The festive season often means overindulgence and a little bit of guilt – but Christmas dinner s are not all that unhealthy.
Here we look at why... and what tips can make it even better for you without losing flavour.
Turkey is high in protein and packed full of minerals and vitamins , which are great for energy production.
It is a source of tryptophan, which can boost your mood, and zinc and selenium, which are good for your skin and immune system. A skinless turkey is lowest in fat.
Sprouts are one of the healthiest things on the plate. They’re a great source of vitamins K and C, which promote healthy bones, and are packed with omega 3 fatty acids, which help the heart and brain.
They can be high in salt, but this is balanced by the potassium content, which helps control high blood pressure . Sprouts also produce enzymes which protect the body against cancer. You should steam them for best results.
Cranberries have anti-inflammatory properties which scientists think can help reduce the risk of heart disease, mainly by preventing platelet build up and lowering blood pressure.
Other studies have shown that cranberries can halt the growth of tumours in various parts of the body, such as the colon, breast, liver, ovaries and prostate.
But beware. Canned sauces can come packed with sugar, so make a naturally sweetened version with honey or maple syrup for maximum health benefits.
These are loaded with health benefits. First of all, they are high in potassium, which is good for the heart, and folate, which helps keep blood healthy. They are composed of soluble fibre, which helps lower cholesterol and cut diabetes risk.
They’re a perfect accompaniment to a hearty Christmas meal because they’re also good for the digestive system, helping to prevent constipation, bloating and other nasty stomach problems.
If you’re trying to lose weight, parsnips aren’t just low in calories – they fill you up and prevent the release of ghrelin, otherwise known as the hunger hormone.
Don’t peel parsnips. This strips them of nutrients. Just give them a gentle scrub to remove any dirt and put them in the oven to roast.
The health benefits of potatoes are often overlooked because they are a carbohydrate. But there are lots of advantages if you eat them in moderation. They can help to manage insomnia and reduce the signs of ageing.
This is because they are rich in vitamins and minerals. Like parsnips, they are very easy to digest. The mix of vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium help relieve inflammation. Stick to roasting potatoes and don’t be tempted to fry them, which costs three quarters of the nutrients.
Dessert can count as one of your five a day. Although not low in fat, Christmas cakes and puddings contain lots of dried fruit. Making your Christmas pudding with certain spices can help maximise the health benefits.
Cinnamon protects brain function, fights infections and diabetes , while nutmeg is a great natural painkiller, as well as being good for the kidneys and liver.