Christmas is the time to eat, drink and be merry, not the time to be worrying about calories, sugar or saturated fat. Be that as it may, going easy on the booze, cakes and mince pies, and boosting your intake with healthier festive fare should do you the world of good and help you avoid Yuletide weight gain.
How to make your Christmas lunch healthier
Knowing exactly what to eat is key, so to give you an idea, we've rounded-up 10 seasonal favourites with superfood health benefits.
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Bursting with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, cranberries are super-wholesome and healthy – as long as you don't go overboard on the sugar of course. The tangy berries are a good source of vitamin C, fibre and manganese in particular, and research shows they may even help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
Learn more about the health benefits of cranberry
Cranberry sauce recipe
Baked apples stuffed with cranberries and pecans
As meats go, turkey is one of the most nutritious. The breast meat is especially wholesome. Exceptionally low in fat and high in quality protein, it's also rich in B vitamins, zinc and selenium, which studies indicate can reduce the inflammation associated with arthritis, and may help protect against cancer of the prostate.
A guide to cooking turkey
Roast turkey with giblet gravy sauce
Roast turkey with orange and watercress stuffing
Love them or loathe them, Christmas lunch would be incomplete without a serving of strong-tasting sprouts. Aficionados will be pleased to learn these cruciferous veggies are loaded with nutrients. Packed with vitamins C and K, Brussels sprouts are an abundant source of cancer-protective glucosinolates and can help lower cholesterol as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Brussels sprouts with nutmeg
Brussels sprouts with cheese and walnuts
Foods that help lower cholesterol
Whether you roast them on an open fire or in an ordinary oven, chestnuts are quintessential Christmas fare, and wonderfully nutritious to boot. For starters, the tasty nuts are brimming with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Chestnuts are also rich in vitamin C, vitamin B12 and fibre, not to mention an array of essential minerals, from iron to magnesium.
How to cook chestnuts
Leek, parsnip and chestnut soup
Pork and chestnut stuffing recipe
Heavenly braised with apples and spices, red cabbage is a mouthwatering festive treat chock-full of superfood goodness. Packed with vitamins C and K, the healthy veggie is a fantastic source of fibre. On top of its high vitamin and fibre content, the crimson-hued cabbage contains anthocyanin pigments that may help boost brain health, and protect against heart disease and cancer.
Red cabbage salad
This yummy root veggie is a stalwart of the Christmas lunch and gives the roast potato a run for its money in the crispy deliciousness stakes. Parsnips don't just taste amazing – they deliver a variety of health-enhancing nutrients, from complex carbs and vitamin C, to fibre and potassium, which can help lower blood pressure by counteracting excess sodium (salt) in the body.
Honey-roast parsnips recipe
Roast potatoes, parsnips and pancetta
Leek, parsnip and chestnut soup recipe
Foods that help lower blood pressure
A traditional stocking filler and popular festive fruit, the clementine could very well be the ultimate guilt-free sweet Christmas treat. Lower in sugar yet sweeter-tasting than oranges, clementines are an outstanding source of vitamin C. The citrus fruit also contain a wealth of minerals, including potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Clementine cake recipe
Read about the fascinating fat-busting properties of naringenin, found in citrus fruits
If you own a nutcracker, Christmas is no doubt one of the few times you use the thing, mainly to crack open Brazil nuts. These festive nuts deserve a place in the superfood hall of fame. They are especially rich in heart-healthy fats, nourishing vitamin E and selenium. In fact, just two or three Brazil nuts provide more than 100% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of the mineral.
10 healthy reasons to eat more nuts
Instantly evocative of Christmas, this sweet woody spice has some interesting potential health benefits. Cinnamon is a rich source of manganese, an essential mineral that supports bone health. The warming spice may also help minimise blood sugar spikes, enhance brain health and act as a mild anti-inflammatory in the body.
10 healthy reasons to eat more spices
How to make Christmas cinnamon biscuits
Ground cloves are almost mandatory in Christmas cake and pudding, while whole cloves studded on the fat make for the perfect finish to a festive ham. Like cinnamon, cloves are a particularly rich source of joint-supporting manganese. Cloves also contain eugenol, a compound with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and mild painkilling properties.
Spiced pickled plums recipe
Christmas glazed ham studded with cloves
Foods that may help fight pain