How healthy is that Christmas dinner?
Posted on December 05 2019
As Christmas day edges closer, you’re bound to be planning the dinner itself. Those pigs in blankets and crispy roasties taste even better at Christmas! But the star of the show, of course, has got to be the turkey. And while there’s plenty of festive food that might expand your waistline, turkey is actually pretty powerful in the nutrition department. Here are some of the benefits this traditional meat offers up.
Your Christmas dinner offers up a whole host of B Vitamins. Turkey is a particularly good source of B6 and niacin, which are both essential to unlock energy from your food. Niacin helps with digestion and turning the food you eat into that all-important energy, whereas B6 is key for your immunity and metabolism. When you’re rushing around trying to prepare for the big day, a little extra energy certainly won’t go amiss!
Around a third of that turkey on your plate is protein. You need plenty of the stuff to build and repair cells, as well as transport nutrients around your body, and of course, it also keeps you fuller for longer. Although you probably pack in enough protein each day already, turkey is a great lean option, as unlike other protein-rich meats, it contains surprisingly low amounts of saturated fat. So, topping your plate up with turkey on Christmas day is a cleaner, leaner option than another helping of those beloved pigs in blankets.
Selenium is pretty hard to come by in your usual diet. However, your Christmas dinner is an unexpected winner! Turkey is a great source of this scarce essential mineral. Selenium helps keep your hair and nails healthy, and is also vital as a protection against damage to your cells and tissues. Not to mention, it’s even more important to keep up your levels in winter, as it helps protect your immunity, too. You get around 30% of your selenium needs from a 100g portion of turkey, so you’re sure to get a good helping of the stuff when piling your plate on Christmas day.
There are some things to keep in mind when feasting on your Christmas dinner. There are small differences between dark and white meat nutritionally. If you like the flavor of dark meat better, then by all means choose turkey leg over turkey breast. Although dark meat typically contains slightly more calories, cholesterol and fat than white meat, it’s also higher in iron, zinc and B vitamins. So, as with most things in life, a balance is best. It’s also worth noting that if you’re trying to cut calories and fat, avoiding the turkey is skin is a good idea. This part of the turkey is higher in calories and fat but low in the nutrients you’ll find in the other areas of the meat.
What to remember
Most festive food is a bit of an indulgence. But turkey is a lean choice this Christmas, and with the vitamin and mineral content you can’t go far wrong. Whether you eat it all year round or just save it for the big day, turkey is an exceptionally healthy source of lean protein, making it the perfect centerpiece of any dinner. Bring on those leftover turkey sandwiches.