Nutrition experts reckon that the average food and drink intake on Christmas day could add up to a staggering 6,000 calories! And whilst it’s true that much of this comes in the form of sugary desserts and snacks (mince pies, Christmas pudding…) and calorie-laden alcoholic drinks, there are also some seriously nutritious aspects too. Food and drink intake over Christmas often gets a bad press so we’ve decided instead to celebrate what’s good about our traditional festive dinner.
The Nutritious Guide to Christmas Food!
• Nut Roast – Not just for vegetarians,a nut roast is a great addition to any table at Christmas. You can pack a nut roast with vegetables, fruit, nuts and even nutritious grains like quinoa. Nut roast is traditionally made with chestnuts, which are a rich source of vitamin C - great for a winter immune boost.
• Turkey – This Christmas staple for many is in fact a pretty nutritious choice of meat; it is a low fat source of protein, which is rich in the essential amino acid tryptophan - an important precursor to the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin.
• Brussels Sprouts – One of the nutrition powerhouses in the vegetable world, it’s such a shame (many would disagree!) that sprouts only really get space on our plates at Christmas. Love them or hate them, sprouts are a rich source of nutrients including vitamin C and folate. They also contain powerful glucosinolate phytonutrients, which support the body’s detoxification enzymes, helping to clear potentially carcinogenic substances from the body more quickly.
• Nuts – Modern day diets are often lacking in essential fats; so snacking on a few extra nuts around Christmas is a great way to up your intake. Packed full of protein too; nuts are a great way to keep your blood sugar levels balanced to help reduce sugary cravings.
• Festive Fruits – Christmas often features brightly-coloured fruits and vegetables such as cranberries, blueberries, pomegranate, redcurrants, carrots, beetroot and clementines. Choose to include these in your festive fayre and you will benefit from immune-boosting nutrients vitamin C and beta carotene and a wide array of antioxidant phytonutrients too.
• Pomegranate – The jewel-like seeds of the pomegranate deserve a special Christmas mention as they are fast becoming renowned as a superfood for their impressive nutrient value. They score even higher than blueberries on the ORAC antioxidant scale - they are known to contain powerful polyphenols, which help to protect against cell damage. Research has also shown that they help to protect against some of the factors that contribute towards heart disease.
• Red Wine – Perhaps there was a lot of truth in Plato’s famous quote, ‘nothing more excellent or valuable than wine was ever granted by the gods to man’. Whilst we’re not advocating excessive drinking over the festive period, if you fancy a tipple this Christmas, red wine is still the ‘healthiest’ option! Some research has shown that red wine, when consumed in moderation may offer significant health benefits. The health benefits of drinking red wine have long been attributed to the polyphenolic compounds present in grape skins; namely resveratrol. Add cinnamon, spices, cloves & orange juice to make a warming mulled wine for a lovely festive option.