Following on from “surviving the festive season”, you can make the most of some of the festive foods as they could be classed as “Christmas Superfoods”. Perhaps your Christmas lunch could be very healthy after all.
Turkey is one of the healthiest meats you can eat, particularly if you stick to the white lean meat, and avoid the brown meat on the legs. It is the “superfood” of meat, containing almost every nutrient you could wish for: high levels of protein, contains high levels of tryptophan which is a precursor to the hormones serotonin and melatonin, essential for good mood and sleep, explaining that after dinner nap, as well as being a low-calorie food with a low percentage of fat. Turkey is also a perfect meat for diabetics, as it has a low GI count (glycemic index) and can assist in stabilising blood sugar.
Parsnips are a great source of potassium helping to protect from high blood pressure. They also contain good levels of folate which helps lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid associated with increased risk of heart disease.
Sweet potatoes are among the healthiest vegetables around. If roasted, which keeps the flavour very intense without adding fat, sweet potatoes burst with fibre, vitamin A, potassium, and phytochemicals, which stave off ageing, cancer, and arthritis. Plus, they’re very filling, so you don’t have to overload your plate with them.
Carrots are a highly nutritious vegetable containing an excellent source of antioxidants. Rich in carotenes, they help protect against cardiovascular disease and promote good eye sight and night vision.
Brussels sprouts are a perfect winter vegetable as they are packed with immune boosting properties including high levels of vitamin C. Known as part of the ‘brassica’ family, these vegetables are great at helping the body detoxify potential toxins.
Cranberries are an amazing source of vitamin C and have long been used for their anti-inflammatory protection. Their unique structure makes it difficult for certain types of bacteria to latch on to the lining of the urinary tract helping to fight off urinary tract infections.
Another little powerhouse of nutrition, nuts provide protein, essential fats, vitamins and minerals. These are beneficial to both a healthy heart and regulating blood pressure. Good ones to go for are walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, and, perfect for this time of year, chestnuts. Chestnuts have the lowest fat and calories of all nuts and in their raw form are a good source of vitamin C. But, like anything, you can still have too much of a good thing, so nuts should be consumed in controlled quantities.
Salmon is an excellent source of omega 3 fats which help protect against heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It also helps keep the brain healthy, fighting off depression and protecting against Alzheimer’s disease. Salmon is also a great source of vitamin B12 and selenium, helping to protect against cancer.
Prawns are another good source of protein, essential for growth and development and for boosting energy levels. Prawns also contain high levels of selenium, protecting against cancer and encouraging cell repair.
Nutmeg contains many anti-oxidants essential for optimal health. It contains good levels of minerals such as copper, potassium, iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium making it a great spice to protect against heart health.
Cinnamon has great anti-inflammatory properties, helping to fight conditions such as asthma and arthritis. It has been used for years as a digestive aid, helping to relieve heartburn, bloating and gas and it also has amazing anti-bacterial action that can help reduce those nasty bugs that can cause food poisoning.
Maybe starting your day with oatmeal is a good way to keep you going as you prepare your Christmas lunch, make you feel replete and help stop you snacking. Oatmeal’s major benefit is a high content of soluble fibre, which lowers cholesterol. It is also quite low in calorific value. But don’t be tempted to add sugar to sweeten it, as this will just ruin the healthy reasons for eating it. If you need a sweet kick, use add a bit of raw honey, molasses, or fresh fruit.
And perhaps finishing off with a glass or two of red wine containing the compound resveratrol, an anti-oxidant shown to protect against heart health, cancer and other diseases however it should not be drunk in an attempt to get health benefits!