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Let’s hear it for the sprout!

In the run up to Christmas it’s easy to get panicked by the calorific challenge of the season.  December can seem like a non-stop test of willpower – you’re hoping to fit into that fabulous outfit at New Year but you’re being offered food treats wherever you turn, and opportunities to drink alcohol increase exponentially as invitations to meet up for drinks and attend office parties pile up.

But Christmas is a holiday, and a time for relaxing and enjoying ourselves.  So have a read of this blog about keeping Christmas under control, but then make sure you get plenty of these Christmas foods this year – not all Christmas foods are unhealthy!

Nuts

Nuts are high in calories and fat, but they are good calories and fat, plus protein, vitamins and fibre.

One of the key vitamins in nuts is Vitamin E – this is a powerful anti-oxidant, which contributes to skin health, strengthens the immune system and is also thought to reduce the risks of coronary disease.

Turkey

There’s no way you’ll get through the season without eating at least one portion of turkey, but try to eat it often.  Turkey is a great, lean source of protein.  It provides folic acid, B vitamins, zinc and potassium.

And when you sit down to Christmas lunch make sure the ratio of turkey to carbohydrate sources on your plate is high – the higher the proportion of protein in the meal, the better for the stability of your blood sugar levels, helping ward off Type 2 diabetes and metabolic disorders.

Satsumas

Full of Vitamin C and fibre, satsumas also contain potassium which helps with a variety of things including heart function and digestive health, and copper, which helps with absorption of iron and protects blood vessels and nerves.  All for around 25 calories!

Brussels Sprouts

I do have to admit a certain amount of bias here – I absolutely love Brussels sprouts.  And knowing that they are nutritional powerhouses make me love them even more.

Firstly, they are another great source of fibre, Vitamin C and Vitamin E.  Being a cruciferous vegetable, sprouts also contain phytochemicals which may help reduce inflammatory conditions, help with detoxification and lower the risk of cardiovascular problems. So make sure you eat your greens!

Smoked Salmon

As an oily fish, smoked salmon has already had quite a bit of good press over the past few years – and rightly so.  Once again, like some of our other Christmas food heroes, it provides protein, healthy fats and Vitamin E.  It’s thought that omega-3 fats may help lift your mood, so starting the day with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs could not only provide a nutritious meal which will keep blood sugar levels stable, but it may also brighten up your day if eaten on a regular basis.

So if you find yourself feeling guilty about eating some of the less healthy foods on offer this Christmas, congratulate yourself that you’ve also topped up your fibre, omega-3, vitamin and protein levels.  And try to incorporate some of these healthy Christmas foods into your diet all year round – you won’t go far wrong with a diet which mainly consists of lean protein, good fats, green vegetables and citrus fruits.