Christmas dinner carries many traditions and some of them have passed through time and remain today. An example is fruits. What is still used today originates from Ancient Rome and in honor of the winter solstice. These are dates, grapes, peaches and dried and oil-bearing fruits, such as hazelnuts and walnuts, associated with abundance and prosperity. What few people know is that many of these fruits are also rich in nutrients and important for a healthy diet.
Brazilians’ Christmas dinner is not complete without the presence of some of these fruits. In regions like the North, for example, they are scarce and only appear during this period. In others, there is abundance almost all year round.
Brazilians have a predilection for red fruits when decorating the Christmas table, but they can’t do without other varieties, in addition to dried fruits. “These fruits, however, are not merely decorative. They are of great importance in healthy eating, with positive effects on people’s health. It is important to know that they can be consumed at any time”, says Lívia Ribeiro, nutritionist at Pátio Gourmet.
The controversial raisin, for example, which gained notoriety on social media with a large number of fans and haters, is rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, such as potassium and iron. It can help with digestive health, promote heart health and provide energy, due to its natural sugars. So, no prejudice and hatred against them. You can use it with balance, says the nutritionist.
Another much desired fruit during this period is the pomegranate, mainly due to the association of its seeds with good luck, prosperity and protection. What many people don’t know are the nutritional benefits of the fruit, rich in antioxidants, such as polyphenols, which help fight free radicals in the body. Furthermore, it is a source of vitamin C, potassium, fiber and vitamin K. Its consumption is associated with reducing the risk of heart disease, improving skin health and aiding digestive health, among others.
The date is also one of those fruits that practically disappears for the rest of the year and appears to shine in Christmas and New Year dishes. However, in recent times, it has become a recommended product as it is an excellent natural source of energy, due to its content of natural sugars, such as glucose, fructose and sucrose. Furthermore, it is rich in fiber, potassium, magnesium and B vitamins.
“Its consumption can help with digestive health, strengthening bones, controlling blood sugar and even helping the heart. However, as they are naturally sweet, they should be consumed in moderation, especially by those who need to control their sugar intake”, explains the nutritionist.
Another one that also plays a leading role on the Christmas fruit table is the peach, which is great for your health. Rich in essential nutrients, such as vitamins C and A, potassium, fiber and antioxidants, they can contribute to the health of the skin, immune system and eyes, due to the vitamins present, among other advantages. Apricots are in the same vein and can be beneficial for the health of the eyes, skin and immune system, as explained by Lívia Ribeiro.
Dried fruits and almonds
All of the fruits mentioned are also found dried (raisins, dates, apricots, figs, among others) and are widely consumed during this period. Dried, they also have a series of nutritional benefits, as they concentrate the nutrients of fresh fruits. They are rich in fiber, which helps with digestion and blood sugar regulation and are also sources of vitamins (such as vitamin C, vitamin K) and minerals (such as potassium, iron and magnesium). Furthermore, they contain antioxidants, which help fight free radicals in the body, explains Lívia Ribeiro.
Almonds are an excellent source of vegetable proteins, fiber, healthy fats (such as omega-3 fatty acids), vitamins (such as vitamin E, vitamin B) and minerals (such as magnesium, calcium and iron). “Its consumption is associated with benefits for heart health, helping to reduce LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and promoting brain health due to its nutrients”, he highlights.