By Riham Shamseddine
It is that time of year again…full of special festivities! We all spend our Christmas and New Year holidays with our friends and loved ones and most of our gatherings are over food and drinks!
Most of us will afford to gain a few pounds and then struggle to shed them off! As unhealthy as this time of year can be, we can outsmart weight gain and unhealthy choices.
Good news though! A lot of the festive season’s popular dishes are considered as super foods. Here are the top 5 most popular Christmas foods:
1. ROASTED TURKEY
This Christmas classic has so many health benefits Turkey is a very good source of protein. Turkey meat is a rich source of iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorus. It is also a source of vitamin B6 and niacin, which are both essential for the body’s energy production. Turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, which produces serotonin and plays an important role in strengthening the immune system. It is also a source of selenium, which is essential for thyroid hormone metabolism; it also boosts immunity and acts as an antioxidant!
Tip: Choose fresh, roasted turkey breast as the pre-packed version could contain high amounts of sodium (salt) and preservatives.
2. sweet potato
Sweet potatoes are one of the very few foods that contain both Vitamin C and E which work as antioxidants with one another to fight wrinkles and preserve the sight and memory. The orange-colored sweet potatoes are also very rich in beta-carotene that keeps the eyes and lungs healthy, and boosts our immune system. They are also rich in Vitamin B6 which protects the heart and preserves the memory.
Tip: Instead of the famous baked sweet potato and marshmallow, bake it or roast with minimal amount of fat and add it to one of your healthy salads or serve it as a side dish to the turkey breast Top 5 Christmas Foods.
Packed with vitamin C, cranberries are excellent to boost the immunity, and to keep young eyes and skin. They are a good source of ellagic acid which is an antioxidant that has been shown to fight carcinogens and prevent heart diseases.
Tip: Prepare your own sugar-free cranberry sauce to serve with the turkey breast, instead of using the packaged ones that are generally high in sugar.
Pumpkin is packed with nutrients! It is a good source of vitamin C, fibers and carotenoids Bright orange in color, pumpkins are high in beta-carotene, which have anticarcinogenic properties. Carotenoids also prevent heart disease and eye problems; they also protect against the sun and its harmful ageing effect. Its richness in Vitamin C makes pumpkin increase immunity and preserves the elasticity of the skin.
Tip: Prepare a delicious and warm pumpkin soup, made without butter or cream. Also prepare a pumpkin pie made from homemade whole-wheat dough instead of buying the pre- packed puff pastry.
Grapes are packed with powerful antioxidants, including tannins, that help prevent the increase of LDL or the ‘’bad cholesterol’’, thus protecting the heart. Grapes also have an anti-inflammatory effect and also promote healthy digestion. The selenium, Vitamin C and Zinc which are present in the grapes protect the cardiovascular system and keep the skin young and wrinkles free.
Tip: Prepare a grape sorbet from low-fat yogurt or have them alongside your cheese platter!
Last but not least, we can still enjoy our Christmas dinner guilt-free and at the same time benefit from all the nutrients which are found in our favorite dishes. Practicing portion control is also key in order not to gain unnecessary pounds. Also, keep in mind to make healthy choices when it comes to all the cocktails and drinks prepared during the festive season and have them in moderation as they are very rich in sugar and fat.