Scientists have found carrots can help us to avoid cancer and other traditional elements of the Christmas dinner have health benefits.
A study at Newcastle University found five servings of the vegetable per week was linked to a 20% reduction in developing all types of cancer.
The findings, published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, showed eating just one serving per week still gives a significant reduction, with a 4% lower chance of the disease compared to those who never eat carrots.
For the research, scientists carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of nearly 200 studies and 4.7 million participants.
Carrots contain many different compounds that have been investigated for health benefits with beta-carotene, the compound causing the pigment of the vegetable, being most researched in the past.
But the study has shown that the whole carrot, rather than carotenes, provides an anti-cancer effect when consumed in enough quantity.
PhD student Charles Ojobor, from the Human Nutrition and Exercise Research Centre at Newcastle University, led the study.
He 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.
“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.
“For our study, we looked at different types of cancer and our analysis showed that people who eat five portions of carrots per week had a 20% reduced risk of developing the disease.”
Meanwhile, a study of the sprout has found that steaming them preserves more of their health-giving qualities than roasting or boiling them.
Steaming them retains glucosinolates, which may aid the body in fighting chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cancer, the experts said.
Glucosinolates are an important molecule that interacts with proteins associated with repairing damaged DNA and promoting cell death in cancer tumours.
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.”
Experts also studied 250 potato varieties, looking at different qualities from tuber characteristics to their ability to resist disease and climate stress, and looked at the best variety for roasting.
Potatoes are full of fibre and can be cooked to a healthy crisp in an air fryer.
PhD student Sophia Long, from the Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering at Newcastle University, said: “Rooster potatoes are perfect for making the best roast potato.
“They have a nice red skin and, when peeled, they reveal a lovely golden colour underneath – perfect for your roasties on Christmas day.”