FROM crispy-skinned turkey doused in gravy to steaming Christmas pudding, the festive season certainly has a reputation for indulgence.
Some of the items on your Christmas dinner plate aren't known for being the healthiest – but researchers say one staple food could slash your risk of cancer by up to 20 per cent.
This is none other than the humble carrot, the cheap as chips roast dinner staple that can cost you as little as 10p.
Researchers at Newcastle University have found that digging into the popular festive side-dish could make you less likely to develop all types of cancer.
The study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found that having five servings of the vegetable per week could slash your risk of cancer by a whopping 20 per cent.
For those of us who aren't carrot crazed, having just one serving each week was enough to lower the chances of getting cancer by four per cent, compared to people who never eat carrots.
Read more on festive health
5 festive foods making you fart & it's not sprouts – 7 ways to beat the bloat
12 health hazards of Xmas & how to avoid them – from heart attack to burns
The research team reviewed nearly 200 studies that included 4.7 million participants to reach these results.
Many scientific studies have focused on the health benefits of beta-carotene, the compound that gives the humble veg its orange tinge.
But the Newcastle University team said it's the whole carrot, rather than carotenes, that has cancer-deterrent properties if eaten regularly.
Lead author Charles Ojobor, a PhD student at the Human Nutrition and Exercise Research Centre at Newcastle University, said: "Many researchers have noticed the benefits of carrots previously, and this is a reason why there was so much data for us to analyse.
Most read in Health
Girl, 10, dies days before Christmas with heartbroken parents by her side
GP reveals what parents must know about 100-day cough – and when to dial 999
From ‘white pneumonia’ to bronchitis – the 5 times your ‘cold’ is serious
‘Devious’ Covid variant behind ‘worst ever’ bouts as immunity falls before Xmas
"However, most of the previous studies focused on beta-carotene, one of the orange carotenoid phytochemicals, which give the orange carrots their colour.
"Unfortunately, beta-carotene did not show much beneficial effect on cancer in controlled experiments.
"As a result, we studied carrots due to their content of a different type of phytochemicals, polyacetylenes, which are colourless but have strong effects on cancer."
A second vegetable can help fight disease
Carrots aren't the only vegetable on your Christmas dinner plate that could give your health a boost.
Newcastle University researchers said Brussels sprouts could help your body fight chronic conditions like diabetes and cancer.
But scientists said it's all about how you prepare them.
Sprouts are high in glucosinolates, an important molecule that interacts with proteins associated with repairing damaged DNA and promoting cell death in cancer tumours.
Boiling or roasting the pungent green nuggets can affect their chemical composition, meaning they won't give you many health benefits.
But steaming sprouts was found to maintain higher levels of glucosinolates.
Dr Kirsten Brandt, senior lecturer in Food and Human Nutrition at Newcastle University, said: “If you boil the Brussels sprouts then you lose a lot of the important compounds into the water.
“If you roast them, they are being broken down during the cooking, so steaming is the one that gives most of these tasty and healthy compounds in the final product.”
If you absolutely love sprouts, you can also have them raw, as this is when glucosinolate levels are highest.
A schoolboy with a rare disease that means he can't eat protein for fear of brain damage recently revealed he'll be gorging on sprouts this Christmas.
Source: Read Full Article