Christmas Dinner – Healthy Delight or Dietary Disaster?

Christmas Dinner Benefits

Some sources would have you believe that your Christmas dinner is going to be disastrous for your health, racking up monumental calorie counts. Sites we’ve found are claiming that the average Brit could be consuming 4000 calories during their festive lunch. That’s double the recommended daily calorie intake for a woman, in a single meal!

We’re not going to tell you how awful Christmas dinner is going to be for you or make you feel guilty like those other Grinches! Instead, we’d like to highlight some of the health benefits of your favourite Christmas foods and, along the way, share some advice on how to make these slightly more healthy.


Turkey

It’s not Christmas without turkey. The good news is that you have no reason to feel guilty when enjoying it on the big day! Turkey is naturally low in fat and even a large portion will contain little over 200 calories. Its high protein content will help control your appetite, meaning you’re less likely to overindulge in other less wholesome Christmas foods (we’re looking at you pigs in blankets!). Turkey is rich in B vitamins and is also a fantastic source of the mineral selenium, which boosts your immune system and protects the body from harmful heavy metals.

V8 Health Tip: Skip the skin

Most of the fat in turkey is in the skin. Just a little bit of skin will add in excess of 40 calories to your meal. Do yourself a favour and try giving it a miss this year.

Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts: Love them or hate them, there’s no denying that they’re good for you! A good source of folate (a B vitamin) and vitamin C, sprouts will help protect your body against heart disease and cancer. Sprouts will also help keep your digestive system healthy with the fibre they contain.

V8 Health Tip: Bypass the bacon

It’s fairly common to eat sprouts with chopped bacon or lardons. High in saturated fats and sodium, bacon also contains flavourings and preservatives, such as sodium nitrate, which studies have linked to higher risks of some types of cancer. So, if you can bear it, go without.

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce should be high on your list of must-eats this winter. Cranberries contain a class of antioxidants called polyphenols. These bioactive compounds demonstrate a range of health benefits including promoting a healthy urinary tract and protecting against heart disease and other chronic conditions. Cranberries are rich in vitamin C, high in fibre and low in fat to boot.

V8 Health Tip: Make your own

A lot of shop-bought cranberry sauces include added sugar. So if you want to make this Christmas essential even more virtuous (and more tasty probably) then go for homemade.

Mulled Wine

Everyone has heard that a glass of red wine a day is good for you. And though we’re not going to start recommending you drink it every day, we would say that mulled wine is probably the healthiest alcoholic drink you can be having this Christmas. Red wine is high in antioxidants, including the much lauded Resveratrol, which have been proven to aid in preventing heart disease and certain cancers. According to the Harvard Medical School red wine can even slow the aging process!

V8 Health Tip: Mull with Merlot

Mull your wine yourself using a good Merlot. Not only will it taste better, but Merlot is particularly rich in procyanidins, which are believed to be a key ingredient contributing to the longevity of people from southwest France and Sardinia!

Chestnuts

Chestnuts aren’t as common Christmas fare as they once were, but with health credentials like theirs’ they really should be. Chestnuts are low in fat and are an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, protein, fibre, iron, B vitamins and folate! So get those chestnuts roasting on the open fire (oven)!

V8 Health Tip: Swap sausage meat stuffing for chestnut stuffing

100g of sausage meat stuffing contains 252 calories and 16g of fat (7g saturates). Compare that to a typical chestnut stuffing, which has 162 calories and 0.8g fat (0.1g saturates). You have yourself a Christmas no-brainer right there.

Satsumas

Satsumas are an essential stocking filler as well as a nutritious festive snack to have around the house. A single satsuma can provide nearly half of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C, essential for staving off those winter coughs and colds. On top of this, Satsumas also contain good amounts of fibre, folate, potassium and calcium.

V8 Health Tip: Let Terry keep his chocolate oranges

Okay, as treats go most would argue that a satsuma doesn’t quite compare to a chocolate orange, but have a look at the table below and you might decide to stick to the real thing in the stockings this year.

1x Chocolate Orange (175g) 1x Medium Satsuma (84g)
Cal 918kCal 53kCal
Fat 50g 0g
Sat Fat 31g 0g
Sugar 104g 11g
Salt 50mg 2mg

Christmas Pudding

We’re not going to pretend that Christmas pudding is the healthiest dish in the world, but since it’s an essential part of every dinner, we’re here to share some of its health merits. Chistmas pud is surprisingly low in fat and, being chock full of fruit and nuts, is actually a good source of fibre, B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, iron and calcium. It is high in sugar however, so try and keep to a small portion if you want to feel virtuous on Christmas day.

V8 Health Tip: Give brandy butter the boot

Just one tablespoon of brandy butter will add 81 calories and 5.8g of fat (3.9g saturates) to your favourite festive pudding! Swap this for low-fat custard and you have yourself a healthier alternative as well as an added boost of calcium.

Mixed Shelled Nuts (walnuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, almonds)

Packed with protein, fibre and essential fats, nuts are a best buy for anyone looking to stay health conscious this Christmas. Unlike with most snacks, tucking into a bowl of mixed nuts will offer a really wide range of valuable vitamins and minerals. Almonds, for example, are full of skin conditioning vitamin E while walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, shown to reduce the symptoms of many conditions including depression and hypertension.

V8 Health Tip: Eat them!

Nuts are notorious for going uneaten over the festive break. But you’ve heard the facts now, so don’t take the advice in this photo, take ours: Eat them.


In conclusion, we’d say a healthy Christmas is possible. Diets don’t have to go down the drain and waistbands don’t need to be let out. Just follow our easy tips and remember to enjoy everything in moderation. Oh, and have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Look out for more fun health & fitness blogs from us in January when we go all out to actiV8 your New Year!