Most of us associate the festive season with over-indulgence and unhealthy habits but many of the traditional festive foods have health benefits to help our bodies through the Winter months:
Turkey – this low-fat meat contains less cholesterol than chicken, pork or beef and is an excellent source of protein, particularly the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan promotes sleep and helps improve your mood(beneficial for those who experience seasonal affected disorder). Turkey also contains selenium which plays an important role in strengthening the immune system – vital during the flu season.
Other nutrients include zinc and vitamins B3, B6 and B12, all of which are known to aid energy production – beneficial during dark Winter days when we may become lethargic.
Brussel Sprouts – OK these are not a personal favourite over the festive season(or ever) but they deserve a mention due to their health benefits. Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable, as is broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc. These vegetables supply a rich variety of nutrients with few calories, and so are a best friend to those not wishing to over-indulge during the festive banquet. Sprouts are one of the best green-vegetable sources of protein and just one serving meets our daily vitamin C and vitamin K requirements.
Research has shown that Brussels sprouts may also help protect brain function and eyesight, reduce nasal allergy inflammation and even manage blood sugar levels.
Chestnuts – these are the only low-fat nut, containing just 1g fat and less than 70kCal /oz of dried or roasted nuts.
In addition, chestnuts are a good source of vitamin C(which supports the immune system) and vitamins B1, B2, and B6(helping to boost our energy production).
Chestnuts also contain dietary fibre, which helps lower blood cholesterol levels.
Cranberries – these berries contain high levels of antioxidants and have long been associated with managing UTIs but their health benefits extend beyond the urinary tract. Recent research suggests that cranberries may reduce the risk of cardio-vascular disease by managing several of the risk factors – the research found that blood pressure and BMI were reduced and the levels of “good” HDL cholesterol were improved.
Cranberries have also been shown to enhance oral health by preventing bacteria from binding to the surface of the teeth.
Bearing this in mind, we should embrace the foods Nature has provided for us to enjoy at this time of year. Season’s greetings to all Meath Coaster readers and may you all have a happy and healthy festive season.
.Anna Ryan, Dip. NT, DC, MNTOI,