Christmas is more often associated with overindulgence than with healthy foods, but I’m here to tell you all about the amazing healthy foods which can have you sail on through. My absolute favourite Christmas healthy foods are Brussel sprouts, pomegranate, walnuts, parsnips and kale. They all offer amazing health benefits in their own right, but you can also serve them all up on your Christmas table for an amazing boost of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Plus the colours will make your Christmas feast sparkle!
The body’s detoxification system requires an ample supplies of sulphur to work effectively, and Brussels sprouts are rich in sulfur-containing nutrients needed for the body’s detoxification system to work properly. For proper detoxification we also need strong antioxidant support which Brussels sprouts are able to provide as they are an excellent source of vitamin C and A and a very good source of manganese. Brussels sprouts also contain a wide variety of antioxidant phytonutrients, including many antioxidant flavonoids like isorhamnetin, quercitin, and kaempferol, caffeic acid and ferulic acid.
There is evidence that the DNA in our cells can be protected by naturally occurring substances in Brussels sprouts. And, since we live in a pretty toxic world with many environmental toxins that can trigger unwanted change in our DNA, Brussels sprouts may be the key to help prevent these toxin-triggered DNA changes.
In addition to the detoxification supportive properties mentioned above, glucosinolates found in Brussels sprouts help to regulate the body’s anti-inflammatory system, therefore preventing inflammation. Brussels sprouts also provide us with a rich source of vitamin K which is a regulator of inflammatory responses, helping us to avoid chronic, excessive inflammation. The glucobrassicin found in Brussels sprouts can be converted into indole-3-carbinol, an anti-inflammatory compound that can actually operate at the genetic level, which research is showing to be beneficial for cancer prevention.
So if you think you’re going to be having a few drinks on Christmas day, make sure to have cooked up some Brussel Sprouts to support detoxification. My favourite way of eating Brussel sprouts is roasted with walnuts and pomegranate. See my recipe here.
Pomegranates have anti-oxidant, anti-viral and anti-tumor properties, providing us with a good source of vitamins, especially vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E, as well as folic acid.
They contain punicalagins and punicic acid, unique substances which are responsible for most of their health benefits; reduced inflammation, potentially inhibiting cancer growth, may help fight breast cancer, may be beneficial against several forms of arthritis and have benefits against heart disease. Pomegranate may improve our cholesterol profile and it protects LDL cholesterol from oxidative damage. It’s anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties may be useful against gum disease and some evidence shows that pomegranate can improve memory in the elderly and may offer protection against Alzheimer’s disease.
Eating the seeds whole is most beneficial, throw them over roasted vegetables or into salads for a lovely, sweet, crunchy addition.
Parsnips are rich in a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and iron, vitamins B, C, E and K. They are also high in fiber which is fantastic for good digestive health and may also protect against type 2 diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure. Parsnips are also abundant in antioxidants such as falcarinol, falcarindiol, panaxydiol, and methyl-falcarindiol which are anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal, aid liver function, immune and skin health.
Vitamin C is lost through boiling so instead, roast your parsnips with some coconut oil, walnuts and sage.
Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is renowned for it’s anti-inflammatory benefits. Research shows that people who eat a diet high in ALA are less likely to suffer from heart disease as well as supporting healthy cholesterol levels, healthy joints and brain.
Walnuts contain a number of powerful free-radical scavenging antioxidants, reducing age-related deterioration and important in helping prevent chemically-induced liver damage, while Vitamin E, folate, melatonin, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants, offer neuroprotective benefits.
Walnuts can also improve male fertility, by improving sperm quality, vitality and motility.
Eat them fresh straight out of the shell as a healthy snack, add them to a trail mix, sprinkle over salads or over your roasted veg at Christmas.
Kale is high in iron, essential for the formation of haemoglobin, enzymes and oxygen transportation, cell growth and proper liver function. The high vitamin K content of kale is beneficial for a number of bodily functions such as normal bone health, blood clotting and may be beneficial for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Rich in antioxidants which help prevent against free radical damage, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids beneficial for arthritis, asthma and autoimmune conditions, vitamin A beneficial for eye and skin health and vitamin C to support proper immune system function. Kale is also a good source of calcium for bone health and high in sulphur beneficial for proper detoxification.
Lightly steam it with some garlic, then drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of Himalayan salt.
I’ll be back with some exciting new projects to share with you in the New Year!