Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

For many people Christmas dinner is the best part of the festive holiday. Having the roast meat or alternative with all the trimmings and gravy certainly feels more decadent than the standard Sunday dinner.

While certain parts of the meal are unfortunately rather calorific – think Yorkshire puddings, pigs in blankets and the stuffing – other parts are actually quite healthy. And now a study has revealed that a certain side dish could even help slash your risk of cancer.

Research by Newcastle University has found that eating carrots could lower your chances of developing the disease by almost a quarter. The study, published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, showed that five servings of the vegetable per week was linked to a 20 percent reduction in developing all types of cancer.

In addition, eating just one serving per week still led to a significant reduction, with a four percent lower chance of the disease compared to those who never eat the vegetable. Previous research has investigated the cancer-reducing properties of beta-carotene, the compound causing the red-orange pigment of the vegetable.

However, university experts discovered that the whole carrot, rather than carotenes, provides an anti-cancer effect when consumed in high enough quantities.

As part of the research, scientists carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of nearly 200 studies and 4.7 million participants.

They found that carrot intake had a reduced cancer incidence across a number of different groupings, from geographic region to exposure and cancer type.

PhD student Charles Ojobor, from the human nutrition and exercise research centre at Newcastle University, led the study.

In a university release he explained: “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 percent reduced risk of developing the disease.”

However, it is not just your Christmas carrots that could help boost your health.

Researchers at the university also revealed that cooking your Brussels sprouts a particular way could help the body fight off certain chronic conditions.

They found that steaming Brussels sprouts helps the vegetable retain its glucosinolates, which may protect the body against diabetes and cancer.

In another study the team looked at roasting, boiling, or steaming and how it impacts the chemical composition of the vegetable.

Dr Kirsten Brandt, senior lecturer in food and human nutrition, warned against boiling and roasting sprouts for this reason.

She 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.”

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