Christmas Power Foods
Many of us dread this time of year as we watch the scales move against our favour. But there are plenty of typical Christmas foods which can be very beneficial to your health. For example, did you know that turkey could actually reduce your stress levels and that roasties could cheer you up? Without the summer sun, it’s essential you care for your body and mind. So instead of restraining when you’re visiting relatives and waving away those Christmas nibbles, why not let go and indulge this holiday season with the following food tips.
Turkey: You might be thinking that all that Christmas dinner was bad for you – but in actual fact it might help you de-stress. That’s because turkey and chicken both contain high levels of Tryptophan, which helps the body produce serotonin, a chemical that acts as a calming agent in the brain.
Dark chocolate: Munch away with less guilt then before! Recent studies show that people who ate 45g (1 1/2oz) of dark chocolate daily had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who didn’t. Scientists have suggested that polyphenols in chocolate may alter metabolism in ways that affect cortisol production. So indulge yourself! But be choosy – a bar containing 60 – 74 per cent cocoa solids is the best. Add a handful of strawberries to really help protect your brain from stress.
Roast or mashed potatoes: There is a good reason your Christmas dinner makes you happy! Carbohydrates help increase concentrations of the neurotransmitter serotonin in your blood, low levels of which are linked to depression. Studies reveal that following a high-carb, low-fat diet for a year makes people feel less angry, depressed and confused than consuming a low-carb diet for the same amount of time.
Red wine: If you’re the type of person who leaves their phone at the gym and their keys in the local supermarket, then maybe you need to have a tipple (but not too much, that would reverse the effect!) A glass a day of red wine has been linked to cutting the risk of Alzheimer’s disease nearly in half. This is because anti-oxidants in wine may protect against small-blood-vessel damage, which has been linked to Alzheimer’s. Have a glass for dinner and tea and dark chocolate for dessert – studies show eating all three improves brain performance.
Organic chicken: Now there’s not only a humane reason to go organic with your chicken. Doing so may also help ensure you luscious locks over the Christmas season. That’s because this bird delivers biotin, B6 and B12, all of which promote cell growth within hair follicles. It also gives you protein – the building block of hair cells.
Oysters: Oysters might not be a typically Christmas food but they are great for any type of celebration served as a starter or with white wine. And luckily, they are your hair’s perfect food. One cup provides 15 times your daily zinc requirements which supports hair growth and helps keeps follicles healthy! They also contain iron which can help your hair grow. If you can’t get them raw – try tossing the canned version in with a pasta and marinara sauce.
Cabbage and Brussels sprouts: They might not be your favourite part of the Christmas dinner but it’s beneficial to eat these green guys on your Christmas dinner plate! This is because cruciferous vegetables, that include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and sprouts, appear to prevent lung, colon and breast cancer – they help your body process oestrogen in a way that might lower risk. Steam them for maximum benefits.
Pistachio nuts: Get crunching on this healthy snack because studies show women who eat nuts two or three times per week are less likely to gain weight over time. There are three key ingredients for weight loss including fibre, water and protein – and nuts have two of these. Pistachios also offer a bonus ingredient in the form of oleic acid – which has been said to prompt feelings of fullness after a meal.
High blood pressure
Asparagus: Dark green vegetables such as asparagus are full of folate. It has been proven that women who get 1,000 micrograms of the nutrient daily are almost 50% less likely to develop hypertension. Also, naturally, a diet that is high in fruit and veg means your more likely to lose weight and therefore less likely to have high blood pressure. Get your fill from asparagus, broccoli, spinach and, yep,Brussels spouts again!
Cherries: This sweet fruit is full of the antioxidants called Anthocyanins. They provide relief for muscle soreness in studies of marathon runners and weight lifters. Also, athletes who drink cherry juice daily before and after they work out have reported less pain and loss of strength then those given a placebo. The fruit also reduces inflammation of muscles – all that in such a small fruit!