10 feel-good foods for Christmas

It may sound too good to be true, but the best Christmas treats can be healthy too. Here's 10 reasons you should have a clear conscience this Christmas.

Pears in spiced tea

1. Smoked salmon

An excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids - good for heart health and only 142 calories per 100g portion. Also a good source of protein, with useful amounts of niacin, which help your body break down food for energy.

Turkey2. Turkey

High in protein and low in fat - as long as you don't eat the skin! A 100g portion of light meat contains just 2g of fat, although the same sized portion of dark meat contains 4.1g of fat. Apart from protein, turkey is a rich source of niacin.

3. Cranberry sauce

 Cranberries contain good amounts of vitamin C. Research from Finland shows that drinking cranberry juice can help beat urinary tract infections, although no work has been carried out on cranberry sauce.

Red cabbage4. Red cabbage

Surprisingly high in calcium, which is essential for healthy bones and teeth and a good source of folate. And, like carrots, red cabbage also contains carotenes.

5. Carrots

A rich source of beta-carotene which your body makes into vitamin A, which is important for good eyesight and healthy skin. The darker in colour the carrot, the more beta-carotene it contains. Carrots are also high in potassium - needed to regulate fluid balance in the body - and, like most vegetables, are low in calories. Research shows that cooked carrots are beneficial for your health - cooking releases carotenoids, antioxidants that are thought to protect against cancer.

Roast roots6. Parsnips

A good source of folate, parsnips contain about twice as much fibre as an equivalent portion of carrots - and twice the number of calories, although they are still low-calorie, as long as you don't add fat through roasting.

7. Roast potatoes

Roasting potatoes in oil piles on the calories, about twice as many as plainly boiled potatoes, but it is Christmas after all. Thankfully potatoes are still low in saturated fat, if cooked in vegetable oil, and are a reasonable source of all sorts of nutrients including potassium and magnesium, as well as vitamin B6 and folate. Plus they contain reasonable amounts of fibre, an added bonus.

Brussel sprouts8. Brussels sprouts

 A rich source of folate and vitamin C, sprouts also contain vitamin B6 which is involved in the metabolism of amino acids, the formation of red blood cells and a healthy nervous system. Along with many green vegetables, Brussels sprouts also contain a pigment known as lutein, which may stop blood vessels clogging up and so help prevent strokes and heart disease - and they're reasonably high in fibre.

9. Mince pies

It's the pastry that piles on the saturated fat and calories - the more expensive the pies, the thinner the pastry and the greater the fruit content. The dried fruit means there will be reasonable potassium content.

Christmas pudding10. Christmas pudding

A lot of Christmas puddings, especially shop bought ones, are likely to be quite high in both saturated fat and calories, but the dried fruit is full of potassium - and you can ease your conscience with the thought that a generous portion will also provide a reasonable amount of iron and fibre. But it pays to shop around - puds with more nuts and fruit are likely to have a lower saturated fat content.

Guilt-free Christmas recipes

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