Christmas food good for sex

Experts say the traditional Christmas meal is a health timebomb. Bah, humbug, we say, because a festive feast is bursting with de-stressing nutrients that will put sizzle back into your sex life.

Sage, as we know, is essential for a good stuffing and in more ways than one recent research has proved. Scientists at Northumbria University have found that an extract of the herb reduces anxiety and stress, which are lethal for the libido. Professor Andrew Scholey says “We are optimistic about the potential for sage to improve mood”.

As many as one in three women loses interest in sex at some time and the most common reason given is stress. So if you’re looking for a festive frolic, here’s our guide to the benefits of the Christmas dinner.

TURKEY > This traditional roast is packed with protein but is still low in fat. Every cell in our bodies contains protein and it’s essential for the healthy working of most organs and production of vital hormones.

Turkey is a good source of zinc, a known fertility booster. High levels of this vital mineral are found in sperm fluid and research from the American Zinc Association shows if this level falls so can the number of sperm. Lack of zinc can also trigger impotence. Turkey also contains iron, which combats the tiredness associated with anaemia, phosphorus which strengthens muscles and potassium which aids kidney function and maintains the body’s water balance.

Another nutrient, tryptophan, is an amino acid which seems important for the immune system. Researchers discovered tryptophan metabolites, molecules formed when the body breaks it down, are as powerful as prescription medicines for combating some effects of multiple sclerosis. Tryptophan also helps to beat the blues by boosting production of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin.

SPROUTS > Christmas is one of the few days of the year when we hit the five-a-day target of fruit and veg that is proven to reduce cancer and heart disease risks.

Sprouts are the nutritional stars of the seasonal spread. A 2oz serving contains more than 60 per cent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 40 per cent of the same of vitamin A. Research from Washington University shows Vitamin C may protect against DNA damage to sperm caused by toxins such as cigarette smoke. Vitamin C also makes sperm more mobile. Their bitter taste comes from compounds called indoles which appear to cut the risk of stomach, lung, breast and other cancers.

CARROTS > They have more vitamin A than any other veg and this helps to protect the cardiovascular system and to maintain sight.

They are also a rich source of vitamin K, which is very important for blood clotting. At least six studies have shown that the carotenoids which provide their colour reduce the risk of heart disease. A diet high in carotenoids has also been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer in older women by 20 per cent and cut the incidence of cancers of the bladder, cervix, prostate, colon and larynx by up to 50 per cent.

PARSNIPS > This root vegetable is brimming with vitamin C and a great source of folate, a nutrient proven to reduce the risk of spina bifida and other birth defects.

The body also needs folate to make DNA and RNA, the building blocks of all cells, and there is evidence it protects against cell damage that can lead to cancer. Tuck in if you’ve been overdoing the celebrations, as alcohol can deplete levels.

CRANBERRIES > These contain plant chemicals which stop urinary tract infections by preventing bacteria sticking to the bladder. It doesn’t take a scientist to work out the discomfort of a urinary tract infection like cystitis is a real passion killer.

SPUDS > Humble potatoes got a roasting with the popularity of the Atkins diet but as far as dieticians are concerned, they should never have been taken off the menu.

Potatoes contain more potassium than bananas and a shortage of potassium has long been known as a cause of cramps and heavy exercise depletes levels of it. But more recently strong evidence has emerged that a diet high in potassium keeps blood pressure down. One in five Brits suffers high blood pressure, which increases the risk of stroke and heart disease.

PUDDING > Raisins are rich in iron, 3oz contains around a quarter of the recommended amount for women, who are often low in iron because of menstrual blood loss.

Nuts may be a no-no for people with severe allergies but for most of us they are a great source of healthy fats which cut the risk of heart disease by lowering levels of “lousy” LDL cholesterol. An American Heart Association study found people who ate a handful of nuts every day reduced their cholesterol levels by around ten per cent.

BRANDY > The artery-clogging saturated fats in brandy butter mean it will never be considered a health food. But brandy will, of course, lubricate your social and sexual confidence and it’s not surprising that Government statistics reveal a rise in the number of births in September.

More good news comes from researchers at Monash University in Australia. They discovered brandy is packed with antioxidants, some of which come from copper, picked up as it’s distilled. Dr Gordon Troup says: “When you are enjoying a slice of brandy-infused fruit cake or a drink of good-quality brandy over Christmas you can put your mind at rest that this amber liquid isn’t too bad for you at all.”