"Avoid over-indulging and bring some balance to your Christmas celebrations this year by including colourful fresh fruit and vegetables to brighten up – and lighten up – your festive dishes."
That's the message from 5+ A Day Charitable Trust.
5+ A Day trustee and principal scientist and team leader at Plant and Food Research, Dr Carolyn Lister, says the festive season can lead to eating too much of the wrong types of foods.
“We often have the tendency to eat lots of energy-dense foods that are lacking in nutrients,” she says.
“Seasonal fruit and vegetables like blueberries, strawberries, cherries, tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, avocados and asparagus contain a whole range of vitamins and minerals to help your body use that energy more effectively and keep you going in the end-of-year rush.”
Carolyn says the trick is to find an equilibrium.
“Don’t deny yourself some treats over the festive season but just make sure to balance them with plenty of colourful fruit and vegetables.”
Snacking on strawberries, blueberries and cherries is a good pick-me-up – pile them onto your platters or whip up a fresh fruit salad to have with that slice of pavlova.
Despite their small size, blueberries pack a big nutritional punch and clinical studies have shown they may help to slow down the brain’s ageing process and improve your gut and heart health.
Both blueberries and strawberries are a source of dietary fibre and contain vitamin C.
“The last thing you want to do is be sick during the holidays so make sure you are eating lots of foods high in vitamin C and folate to keep your immune system healthy.”
It’s also easy to add ingredients like asparagus and avocado to your salads alongside traditional staples such as tomatoes and lettuce.
A Caprese salad looks especially festive, with layers of tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella cheese, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil or a balsamic glaze.
Avocado is a good source of healthy fats and helps you absorb the fat-soluble vitamins from the other salad ingredients.
While asparagus is a source of dietary fibre, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin C and vitamin K, and contains a dietary significant amount of potassium which helps your nerves and muscles to function correctly.
Greens like lettuce, avocado and asparagus are also sources of folate which is critical for healthy cell growth and function.
“Get inventive with your salad combinations – colourful fresh produce on a plate looks incredibly festive and will leave you feeling energised and upbeat so you’re ready to welcome 2024 with a healthy body and healthy mind.”