Indulge in These Festive Foods Over Christmas
While Christmas is rightly the time to ease up and indulge yourself, an excess of alcohol, sugar and fatty foods can leave you feeling sluggish and uncomfortable in the long run. Luckily, alongside the mince pies and mulled wine, there are plenty of healthy food options out there to keep you on the right track and counteract too much trifle. Here’s our pick of the best bits to fill your plate with…
Cranberries are a feature of any good Christmas table and happily so thanks to the potent antioxidant properties which help reduce free radical damage and promote healthier skin. As well as being high in prebiotic fibre to help foster a good gut environment, they’re powerful inflammation fighters, which is often ramped up when we indulge in too much alcohol and processed foods during the holidays. Cranberries are also a great way to fight off potential UTIs, because they contain A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs) which interfere with bacteria's ability to the bladder wall and cause infection.
Packed full numerous vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A and potassium (great for improving heart health), sweet potatoes are a great addition to your festive plate. They’re loaded with vitamin C (around 65% of your daily recommended intake) and B6, which is important for maintain a healthy brain and nervous system and are a great source of fibre, containing both soluble and insoluble fibre, both of which provide numerous gut-health benefits.
Although we only tend to eat brussels over the festive season, we should be eating them a lot more regularly, if only for their numerous health benefits. High in fibre which helps regulate blood sugar levels, sprouts are also high in anti-inflammatory antioxidants and vitamin C. They’re also a great source of vitamin K, providing well over your suggested daily intake. Vitamin K is essential for proper coagulation of the blood and can, according to some experts, play a role in increasing bone strength. If you’re a vegetarian and struggle to get enough anti-inflammatory omega-3 into your diet, then the good news is that sprouts are one of the best plant sources of this essential fatty acids around.
A great source of fibre to promote good gut health and manganese which plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism and forming connective tissue, parsnips are also high in folic acid which is good news for pregnant women and those actively trying to conceive. Folic acid is especially important in healthy development of the foetus and can reduce the risk of birth defects.
Although it’s only really eaten at Christmas time, turkey is one of the best sources of protein there is and has myriad health benefits. High in potassium, zinc and B6 and 12, the flesh itself is lean and low in saturated fat. If your sleep usually suffers over the festive period, then even more of an excuse to load up your plate. Turkey is a great source of tryptophan, an amino acid that boosts the hormone serotonin, the precursor the melatonin which is needed for sleep. Go one further in your quest for a great night’s sleep and pair your turkey serving with a carbohydrate such as sweet potatoes. Doing this helps make tryptophan more available to the brain.