Weight loss: Enjoy Christmas dinner while on a diet with these top Christmas foods
Weight loss is a difficult journey that everyone finds themselves on at least once in their lifetimes, but dieting during the Christmas season can be especially difficult due to the various festive treats that can catch anyone’s eye. From Christmas cookies to delicious puddings, mince pies and boxes of quality streets, even the most careful of slimmers could find themselves cutting loose.
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With the festive season in full swing, the British Nutrition Foundation’s (BNF) team of nutrition scientists have compiled a list of Christmas food to help the nation enjoy a delicious variety of nutritious seasonal fare.
Incorporate some of these nutritious foods into your Christmas meal to get the most out of your Christmas dinner.
Sara Stanner, Science Director, British Nutrition Foundation, comments: “The festive season is filled with a whole range of delicious foods, many of which are also nutrient rich and can make a great contribution to the diet.
“From vitamin C in clementines and fibre in nuts and dried fruit, to omega 3 fats in salmon and B vitamins in turkey. Many of these nutritious, festive foods are also very versatile, making it easy to incorporate the flavours of Christmas into your cooking this holiday season.”
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The top 10 Christmas foods for 2019
1. Brussels sprouts: Love them or hate them, Brussels sprouts are a good source of vitamin C and folate, and also provide fibre, which is needed to keep the gut healthy.
“Although many people will have bad memories of over-boiled sprouts, there are plenty of delicious ways to prepare them – the BNF suggests par boiling and then roasting them with flavourful ingredients such as: chestnuts and nutmeg; pecans and dried cranberries; pistachios and pomegranate seeds; hazelnuts and orange zest; or garlic, chilli and lemon zest and juice,” recommends Stanner.
2. Carrots: Carrots provide beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A – important for normal vision and a healthy immune system.
“Carrots can be prepared in lots of different ways – roasted with herbs like rosemary and thyme, grated in salads, mashed with cumin – also delicious steamed or serve raw with hummus for a vegan Christmas party dip,” said Stanner.
3. Chestnuts: The perfect accompaniment to Brussels sprouts, chestnuts are in season and are delicious added to stuffing, soups and sauces.
“Chestnuts are naturally low in saturated fat, they contain fibre and provide potassium which can contribute to the maintenance of normal blood pressure,” said Stanner.
4. Clementines, satsumas and tangerines: “Easy to eat at home and on the go, these are all rich in vitamin C, which is important for supporting the immune system, helping to keep you well during the cold months,” said Stanner.
Clementines are a tasty contribution to your 5 A DAY – and the perfect addition to Christmas stockings!
5. Cranberries: Fresh or frozen cranberries are packed with vitamin C but because they are sharp, cranberry products can have a lot of added sugar.
Stanner recommends making a homemade cranberry sauce instead of using a store bought one, she said: “Try making your own cranberry sauce so that you can use less sugar, or make a mocktail with no-added-sugar cranberry drink mixed with orange juice.”
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6. Dates and figs: Another fruity festive favourite, dried figs and dates can be added to cereal or porridge for a warming winter breakfast.
“With their versatile flavour, figs can be incorporated into a variety of sweet and savoury dishes – try fresh or dried figs in salads or with cheese,” recommended Stanner.
“Dried figs provide potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium and can also count towards your 5 A DAY – three dates or two dried figs count as one portion,” revealed Stanner.
7. Nuts and nut roast: “Whether you are vegetarian or just cutting back on your meat-intake, a nut roast is a delicious centre-piece or addition to the Christmas dinner table, providing a range of nutrients including potassium, iron, zinc, B vitamins, folate and vitamin E,” said Stanner.
For those catering for a variety of dietary requirements, there are plenty of gluten-free and vegan nut roast recipes available too.
Nuts are a great source of monounsaturated fats, which can be beneficial for heart health and a small portion of unsalted nuts is a great healthy snack.
8. Roast potatoes and parsnips: Christmas isn’t Christmas without some roasties! In the UK, potatoes make a good contribution to potassium and vitamin C intakes and parsnips are also an excellent source of fibre, manganese and folic acid.
“Opt for a mixture of roasted potatoes, parsnips and other vegetables for greater variety. The BNF also suggests leaving the skins on for more fibre, and advises roasting using plant-based oils like rapeseed oil (often labelled as vegetable oil),” recommends Stanner.
9. Salmon: Salmon is rich in long chain omega-3 fatty acids which are important for heart health. It is recommended to include a portion of oily fish in the diet each week, but the average person has less than half a portion.
Stanner said: “Christmas is the perfect time to boost your [salmon] intake – canned salmon still counts as an oily fish – you could try mixing it with reduced fat cream cheese, lemon and pepper as a dip or mashing up with leftover potatoes and some herbs to make fishcakes.
“If your preference is smoked salmon, be aware that this can be high in salt and so should be consumed in moderation,” she warned.
If you’re vegetarian or vegan slimmer, walnuts and flax seeds are good sources of the shorter-chain plant omega-3s and can be easily added to porridge or baked into many of Britons favourite festive dishes.
10. Turkey: Traditional turkey without the skin is a lean source of protein and is also a source of B vitamins (vitamins B6 and B12) which help to support a healthy immune system.
“Turkey doesn’t have to be only for the big day or using up the leftovers– it’s also great for burgers, Bolognese or stir fries,” said Stanner.
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