6 top foods for a healthy festive holiday
December is here and with it plenty of seasonal treats! The good news is that many of the seasonal foods and foods we tend to eat more in December are rich in many vitamins and antioxidants, and integrating them into your diet will support you in reaching your health goals.
Below are my top picks:
Despite being likely to be snubbed at Christmas lunch, Brussels sprouts are a proper superfood! As part of the cruciferous family (same as kale, cauliflower, broccoli and rocket), Brussels sprouts are one of the richest sources of vitamin C, vitamin K, and many antioxidants.
Vitamin C can support the immune system and is needed for collagen synthesis. Also a great source of fibre which can help keep your gut microbiota healthy.
Kale and kalettes
These are other members of the cruciferous vegetable family that can be considered proper superfoods! Very rich in fibre, they can help modulate the glycemic index of a meal – try to pair them with pasta or potato-based dishes.
Cruciferous are also a great source of antioxidants, such as carotenoids like lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene and sulfur-rich compounds known as glucosinolates. Carotenoids are associated with eye health while glucosinolates can support liver detoxification pathways and hormone clearance. Green leafy vegetables like kale and kalettes are a source of magnesium, a mineral essential for energy production and nervous system relaxation – both very relevant during the holiday season!
They are a source of 50+ trace minerals, vitamins C, A, K, and manganese and are one of the fruit with the highest amount of antioxidants! Cranberries are also well known to be helpful in the management of urinary infections; This is because of antioxidant proanthocyanidin (PAC) which "wraps" around Escherichia coli (E. coli), which is thought to be the cause of most UTIs, preventing it from adhering to the bladder walls and causing an infection. The same effect of PAC has been observed in preventing the adhesion of bacteria involved in periodontal disease and plaque.
Proanthocyanidin is found in many dark red and "blue" fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, red cabbage, black grapes, black currants and pine bark, but cranberries are one of the richest sources.
A powerful source of vitamin C, one medium mandarin can provide up to one-quarter of your daily recommended intake of this vitamin. Vitamin C is not only associated with immune system support but also skin health and wound healing as well as collagen formation.
A large population study has associated a diet rich in citrus fruits with a reduced risk of kidney stones, as the citrates in citrus fruits can help break down calcium oxalate crystals that form kidney stones.
Rich in many antioxidants, including punicalagin, which is a kind of tannin and is unique to this fruit. Punicalagins are among the most potent antioxidants and can support the cardiovascular system by promoting vasodilation, increasing blood flow and lowering blood pressure. Studies show that punicalagin and ellagitannins (also found in pomegranate) have anti-inflammatory properties.
Pomegranate compounds might also fight certain pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeasts.
The festive season can’t be called so without chocolate! Cacao is very high in flavanols, compounds with very high antioxidant properties. Flavanols can help lower inflammation and can help increase nitric oxide, a compound helpful to increase blood flow and reduce blood pressure. Some new research has associated cacao with improved mental performance and cognitive function because of the increased blood flow to the brain.