Tag Archives: minerals

Why Christmas dinner isn’t THAT bad for you…

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

I hope everyone has had a splendid day full of festive cheer… but lets get onto the eating. At the moment I am sitting watching Alan Carr’s Chatty Man and feeling like a stuffed turkey, and I am sure that I am not the only one eh? Christmas Day is perceived as a nationwide ‘cheat day’, however should we even be considering that the feast of a meal we have all consumed is a ‘cheat meal’? The basics of a Christmas dinner (for the most of us) would be meat, veg and potatoes, and this does conform to, depending on how everything is cooked, the guidelines set out by the NHS in the Eatwell Guide.

MEAT

Okay so you may pass this by if you are veggie/ vegan but, for the majority of us, this is the main staple of a Christmas meal. I have narrowed it down to three main meats consumed in a regular persons dinner:

Turkey

So turkey is a very very very lean meat, with 100g containing 31.2g of protein and only 4.6g of fat. But what does this mean? There are slightly less calories per 100g than a more fatty meat so could be considered a ‘healthier’ option. It is also high in multiple minerals: zinc, which is used in carbohydrate metabolism, protein and fat synthesis and immune function; potassium, needed for nervous and heart function; and phosphorous needed for bone and teeth formation.

Chicken

Turkey’s small but mighty counterpart, many of the same nutritional values are similar to its larger cousin. It is marginally higher in calories per 100g (177 as opposed to 166 in turkey) which can be explained by a slight increase in fat (7.5g) and a decrease in protein (27.3g). SCIENCE FACT: Fat contains 9kcal per gram whereas protein only contains 4kcal per gram. These small differences should really be overlooked, as chicken is still a lean and healthy meat. As well as being high in potassium and phosphorous like turkey, it is also high in niacin (a B vitamin) which help the body use carbohydrates for energy.

Beef

Okay okay okay, so this is a more fatty meat BUT there are some nutritional benefits. Firstly, fat is NOT bad for you, if eaten in moderation, as it is needed for energy, fat-soluble vitamin absorption and organ protection. It also has a high iron content, which is needed for oxygen transport and, out of all the vitamins and minerals, has the highest number of deficiencies in humans.

VEGETABLES

So there is a reason that we all need to have 5-a-day…. because vegetables are one of the key dietary sources of the main vitamins and minerals, and there are LOADS in a Christmas roast!

Brussels

Love them or loath them they are a staple of a Christmas dinner. Nutritionally they are a provider of potassium, folate which helps growth and cell maintenance, and vitamin C which helps make collagen, a protein making up connective tissue, aids hormonal reactions and immune function.

Carrots

Roast carrots drizzled in honey is how my family cook them at Christmas, and we eat them by the ton! Carrots contain a whopping amount of retinol (vitamin A), which has roles in the body associated with growth and immunity.

Parsnips

The cousin of carrots, parsnips don’t contain as much vitamin A, however they can provide us with folate and a massive amount of potassium.

POTATOES

Roasted, mashed, boiled, sautéed, whatever you fancy, potatoes are the starchy carbohydrate staple in your mammoth Christmas meal, providing energy to get you through the charades and boardgames that may follow later on in the evening.

 

SO

The basics of the Christmas dinner are very healthy… so the only unhealthiness on the rest of the day may be the Quality Streets and Christmas pudding consumed throughout the rest of the day…

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Fancy steak and chips

This is super easy and nutritious meal takes only 20minutes to make and is perfect for those on the go that want something filling yet tasty!!

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Ingredients (serves 1):

  • 150g lean beef steak (3-5% fat)
  • 90g curly kale
  • teaspoon of honey
  • teaspoon of soy sauce
  • 65g sweet potato
  • paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • teaspoon of olive oil

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC(fan)/220º/gas mark 9 (basically whack it up to the highest temperature).
  2. Cut the sweet potato into chips (it is up to you how thick you cut them – they may just have slightly different cooking times).
  3. Cover the chips in some olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika and put into the oven for 15-20minutes – shake the pan halfway through.
  4. When there is 8minutes left until the chips are done, heat a small amount of the oil in two frying pans until hot (highest temperature on the hob again – we like speedy cooking here!).
  5. Season the steak and cook in one frying pan, turning halfway through. For rare – 3minutes each side, for medium – 4minutes each side and for well done – 5minutes each side.
  6. Meanwhile, add the kale to the other pan and stir fry for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the honey and soy sauce and mix into the kale whilst still in the frying pan to heat it through.
  8. Enjoy!

Health benefits:

Looking at the nutritional content of the food actually surprised me quite a bit! I have narrowed down the main 5 nutrients which are in considerable abundance in this meal – and their contributing meal components (displayed in some pretty swish pie charts):

Folate:

Folate is the ‘umbrella term’ for a group of chemicals which have significant benefits if eaten more often. It has been linked to decrease risk of heart disease, and in pregnant women to reduce the risk of birth defects in the baby (the recommended requirement of folate per day is therefore higher for pregnant women). This meal contributes just under half the daily requirement of folate expected for the average (non-pregnant) adult, so there is a HUGE amount considering this is only one meal!

Iron:

Iron has a multitude of functions in the body, with the main one being the transport of oxygen. Iron deficiency is the most common mineral deficiency in humans, and can result in fatigue, struggling to breath and a decrease in immune function, to name a few. Iron deficiency (anaemia) is also more evident in women due to loss of iron because of the menstrual cycle. SO this meal is perfect in helping get more iron into the diet – with it containing 4.8mg per portion and the average reference intakes for males being 8.7mg/day and for females being 14.8mg/day.

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Most red meats are high in iron therefore beef being the main contributor did not surprise me, and I know curly kale and dark green leafy vegetables are also relatively high in iron however I did not expect PAPRIKA to be this high in iron with just 3 grams containing 0.63mg of iron!

Vitamin B6:

Vitamin B6 is used in the body for the release of glucose to use as energy and for protein metabolism, and although deficiency is rare it can result in sleepiness, changes in personality and impaired immunity. There is some research out there to suggest that may decrease PMS symptoms of the menstrual cycle (bloating, cramps, moodiness – we’ve all been there ladies), and this meal will provide you with roughly 80% of your daily B6 intake!

Vitamin B12:

Vitamin B12 and folic acid work hand-in-hand in the body, so often it is hard to distinguish whether these benefits are from B12 or folic acid – BUT these benefits include helping to protect against chronic diseases and birth defects in pregnant women. AND THIS MEAL CONTAINS 192% OF YOUR DAILY B12 REQUIREMENT.

Vitamin C:

Vitamin C is commonly known to prevent the common cold – and I’m afraid that this information widely believed by the public has no sufficient information to back it up (sorry – I’m upset too) however it does prevent scurvy, so if you’re a pirate, you will want to read this. It also synthesises college which is a material in bones and tissue. This, my friends, is where the curly kale steps in, with it providing the majority of the vitamin C content of the meal which also happens to be 280% of your vitamin C daily requirement!!Screen Shot 2017-11-05 at 13.59.47

SO!! We have established that this meal is VERY high in some major nutrients that our bodies need…. and is also delicious so it’s the best of both worlds really!!

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