Even the healthiest eaters probably have a little bit of a break at Christmas time but it can’t hurt to know what bits of your dinner are doing a good job and should be enjoyed guiltlessly.
Of course we’re not about to tell you how fantastic your creamy mashed potato and roasties are but there are plenty of ingredients on your festive dinner plate that have their benefits:
Almost every Christmas dinner up and down the land will include its fair helping of turkey and well-known already as a lean meat there are other benefits to enjoying a turkey dinner, as well as the taste. Turkey is packed out the with essential amino acid tryptophan which helps to create serotonin which then forms melatonin which is an essential property for deep sleep. As well as being lean and tasty, turkey provides this essential amino acid for our bodies.
Whether you glaze them in honey or enjoy them simply as they are, parsnips are one root vegetable which are great for the gut. The parsnip is a fantastic food for your digestive health, largely due to the oligosaccharide it contains. This large indigestible type of sugar not only provides the parsnip with its sweet moreish flavour is it also a food source for good bacteria that live within your digestive system – helping them to become stronger and protect your intestines and gut.
Whether you love them or hate them there’s no denying that the humble sprout is a healthy addition to the festive dinner plate. Over 650 tonnes of sprouts are sold every year by supermarkets in the UK so they must be doing something right and when it comes to your health, spouts offer a nutrient packed profile. They are packed with a wide range of key nutrients including the extremely important isothiocyanates which are a chemical group known for their anti-mutagenic properties which can help your body to metabolise other foods properly and avoid mutations which could lead to cancer.
Spiced red cabbage is a wonderful addition to the Christmas dinner plate (often instead of sprouts) and it builds up the nutritional value of your meal too. The deep red of the cabbage is a bit of a giveaway to its goodness as the colour is created by nutritional compounds known as flavonoids, which contain a huge range of different antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Research at the University of Reading found that flavonoids can enter the dells which line our blood vessels, creating an irritant. However in doing this, they lead to the release of nitric oxide, which acts as a muscle relaxant, widening the blood vessels and therefore helping to reduce blood pressure.
Whilst every aspect of your Christmas Dinner may not be the healthiest, combining a few of these elements will boost the nutritional value overall, as well as improving the taste.
I really enjoy my christmas veg, and every year I decide I want to eat sprouts more often, The trouble is that I seem to be the only one! Now I know how healthy they are perhaps I'll have company.
It's always nice to have a reminder that the side veg are doing my health a lot of good. Then I can enjoy the pudding and chocs without so much guilt!