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20 December 2017

Scientists at King’s have drawn on their research to identify Christmas favourites that, when consumed in moderation, can help to lower blood pressure, reduce cardiovascular risk factors and support growth of beneficial gut bacteria.


Whether you’re snacking on a handful of Brazil nuts or chomping on almonds, ongoing research at King’s is examining how some nuts, including almonds, can help lower cardiovascular risk factors.

Main course:

Turkey is a great low-calorie, low-saturated fat source of protein. A 3oz serving (about the size of a pack of cards) provides 20 per cent of selenium requirements – a mineral that’s deficient in many British diets. Turkey also provides about 10 per cent of the daily iron requirement.

Far from being the ugly sister of the Christmas meal, the humble Brussel sprout is more of a Cinderella vegetable, hiding a wealth of wonders. Sprouts contain high levels of vitamin C, important for immune function, and vitamin K which is important for blood clotting.

Root vegetables, such as beetroot absorb nitrate from the soil. The consumption of nitrate-rich foods has been shown to lower blood pressure.


The traditional Christmas pudding can be a delicious way of increasing fibre intake over the festive season. Containing fruits such as cranberries, cherries, apricots, sultanas, dates and raisins, the fibre in a Christmas pudding is vital for healthy gut bacteria.

A tipple and some chocolate:

Red wine and dark chocolate both contain beneficial compounds called polyphenols that have been shown to lower blood pressure. But everything in moderation!

Drinking two to three glasses of Champagne has been shown to improve short-term blood vessel function within four to eight hours after consumption. Although this is due to the beneficial compounds present in the grapes and not the alcohol!

Christmas is a time to enjoy yourself and for many that includes indulging in festive treats. You might be surprised to find that lots of foods we typically enjoy sharing with our families at Christmas have actually been shown to have nutritional benefits, such as the polyphenols in red wine and chocolate which can be good for cardiovascular health, the traditional turkey which is a low-fat source of protein and nuts that contain healthy fats. ‘Why not make your new year’s resolution one you can keep for the whole year and not just a two-week detox! The key thing to remember is to enjoy everything in moderation as part of a varied diet and active lifestyle – and focus on balance and enjoyment.’

– Professor Kevin Whelan, Department of Nutritional Sciences

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