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Food experts reveal what makes the perfect Christmas dinner
FORGET that bloated, sleepy afternoon spent on the sofa after over-indulging on the Christmas dinner because experts have calculated what constitutes the perfect plate to leave you purring with satisfaction rather than groaning from excess.
New research by food experts, published by Aldi, reveals the exact proportions and ingredients to leave guest feeling wowed.
It all looks a tad precise, but here it is:
• 150g of white roast turkey meat
• 110g of Chestnut stuffing
• 100g of gravy
• 15g of cranberry sauce
• One chipolata
• 80g of roast potatoes
• 155g of steamed sprouts
• 160g of steamed carrots
• 150g of red cabbage
Follow it up with a 28g slice of Christmas pud (Aldi came out on top in our taste test) one of Which? magazine’s favourite mince pies (also Aldi) and a fresh clementine.
TV food psychologist Dr Davis Lewis, of Channel 4’s Secret Eaters, said: “It’s not just the taste of the turkey and all the trimmings, or the memories it evokes of Christmases past, that make roast turkey such a favourite at Christmas.
“It’s the variety of colours, tastes, aromas and textures in a traditional Christmas dinner that has guests’ mouths watering before they have even tasted a mouthful.
“When you then look at the effects each different ingredient has on the body, it becomes clear why a good Christmas dinner really is the perfect plate of food.”
THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE PERFECT PLATE
A range of different ingredients limits Sensory Specific Satiety, or SSS. This is why, no matter how much we like what we’re eating, it quickly stops tasting fabulous if we eat too much of the same thing.
Turkey - a nutritional wonder-food
Being high in protein means turkey regulates digestion and stabilises insulin levels. Turkey is also an excellent source of Omega 3 Fatty Acid, which protects against heart disease and may also safeguard against depression. A 150g serving of roast turkey also contains 158% of the Recommended Daily Intake of an essential amino acid called L-Tryptophan. As well as reducing your appetite, and so preventing over-eating, this breaks down serotonin and melatonin, making it easier to remain cool, calm and collected in the face of Christmas Day’s excitement.
L-Tryptophan’s benefits only come into effect if the turkey is digested with carbohydrates – which is where the potatoes come in. The body also converts carbohydrates into glucose, releasing insulin and pushing nutrients to the heart, liver and other organs.
As well as containing vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, the vegetables in the perfect Christmas dinner are high in fibre, helping to ensure that guests feel fuller for longer.
The sweet cranberry sauce releases a cascade of powerful ‘reward’ substances in the brain, such as dopamine, serotonin and opioids – the latter providing an exhilarating natural high.
Umami – the Japanese word for ‘simply delicious’ – is one of our five basic tastes, and is found in vegetables such as red cabbage, as well as in the turkey itself.
The fat in the gravy, together with the range of textures from crunchy roast potatoes to soft stuffing, helps enhance the ‘mouth feel’ of the meal, which is key to our enjoyment of it.
The contrast between the slightly salty umami of the main course and the sweet and savoury flavours of the pudding tells the brain that we are ‘full’, stopping us from overeating. Both Christmas pudding and mince pies also have a hint of cinnamon, which can stop blood sugar levels from fluctuating and may help lower cholesterol levels.
Ending a meal with fresh fruit can round the meal off on a healthily enjoyable note, leaving guests feeling happier and with more energy for the rest of the day – and even Boxing Day as well.
What do you think makes the perfect Christmas dinner? Leave a comment below or Tweet @JimNewsShopper
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