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The nutritional benefits of the Christmas table

23 December 2012 / 19:12:24  GRReporter
4068 reads

Besides spending time with your family, Christmas dinner also offers a wide variety of remarkable healthy dishes - unless you overdo it. Do not be surprised, even if you associate the dinner with heavy, unhealthy, high-calorie meals, you have another choice - not less nutritious and healthy dishes, from the main course to desserts and drinks.

Ham with Honey

Ham may not be the best choice for your body, but the honey some of its varieties contain makes it more nutritious. Honey adds a remarkable special taste to meat, and, besides, it is healthy. A study by scientists from the University of Illinois confirms that honey contains antioxidants that can protect our body from heart diseases. The findings were presented at the Congress of the American Chemical Society in Boston in 2002. Honey has a lot of other advantages: it helps conservation of meat and protects it from harmful sub-products which are formed during its oxidation - something that may increase the risk of heart diseases. The study also showed that the spectrum of antioxidants found in honey is comparable to those found in fruits such as apples, oranges, strawberries and bananas. Of course, large quantities of ham are unhealthy, regardless of the quantity of honey in it. Therefore, you should be careful with its use.

Dark green vegetables

Whether in a salad with pomegranate and walnuts, or served with various sauces, dark leafy greens are a very good way of putting something healthy on the table. Green vegetables are very nutritious, according to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2002. They are a rich source of the antioxidant lutein, which helps fight many diseases. An earlier study shows that lutein may reduce the risk of beige spots that are caused by age-related degeneration and cause blindness. Lutein is also found in other leafy vegetables such as spinach.


Turkey is nutritious, whichever part you choose. Both dark and white meat contains tryptophan, an amino acid which is vital for good health because our body needs the production of certain proteins. Afterwards, it uses them to help build new cells. Tryptophan can help the immune system against autoimmune diseases. Other foods rich in tryptophan are nuts, cheese and shellfish.

Bread stuffing

Do not hesitate to reach for bread on Christmas. Its crust is a rich source of antioxidants that fight cancer, according to a 2002 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Experts confirmed that the crust of bread, used for stuffing the turkey, is very healthy. Scientists have analysed the antioxidants contained in bread made from rye yeast and wheat flour after baking. They found that antioxidants are produced during baking - eight times more in the crust than in the rest of the bread. Applying these antioxidants on human gastric cells, they found that these are most effective in increasing the level of phase II enzymes.

Canned corn

Canned corn is a typical dish on the table. It contains more nutrients than fresh corn, according to a 2002 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Thermal processing of canned corn significantly increases phenolic compounds which are naturally present in maize. They help fight diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Herbs and spices

Make your holiday meals even more spicy by adding herbs and spices such as dill, thyme and mint. Besides the fact that they are usually used to give additional flavour, they are full of antioxidants. Just one tablespoon of fresh oregano contains the same amount of antioxidants as a medium apple, according to a 2002 study. Experts studied 39 plants, confirming that dill, garden thyme and rosemary have important anti-cancer properties. The findings were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.


Oranges and tangerines are gold mines of vitamins. According to a 2005 study, they contain vitamin C and beta-cryptoxanthin which are antioxidants. Scientists from the UK confirmed that the use of fruit and vegetables containing beta-cryptoxanthin and vitamin C, like a cup of fresh orange juice every day, may help prevent joint inflammation.

Pumpkin pastry

If you are trying to decide what to have for dessert, try a sweet potato pie or pumpkin pastry. They are rich in alpha and beta carotene, which can be turned into vitamin A. Vitamin A, which is found in carrots, contributes to healthy eyesight. Pumpkin is another rich source of beta carotene, according to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Spinach is also rich in this ingredient, and you can prepare a spinach pie, as well.

Tags: Christmas meal spices turkey pumpkin pastry corn hot chocolate coffee oranges
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