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6 Christmas foods that will make you a better runner

From Runner's World

It might not be a normal Christmas this year, but some things never change – endless amounts of food that tastes so good in the moment but leaves you bloated and sleepy. While you might enjoy tucking into a plate of cocktail sausages followed by a bowl of crisps and a Terry's Chocolate Orange, we predict Strava will show you the negative effects of too much festive food overindulgence.

But we have good news! There are plenty of Christmas foods that taste just as good as the highly processed ones, but also stay healthy and improve your running performance. Instead, make Terry's Chocolate Orange part of your post-run pick-me-up…

smoked salmon

Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs are the perfect way to start Christmas Day. Salmon is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for heart health, and protein, which is needed to build muscle and keep you fuller for longer. Eggs are also a great source of protein and vitamin B12, which is essential for producing the energy you need for that fresh run on Christmas morning.

nuts

What could be better than cracking nuts out of their shells in front of the fireplace? The good news is that unroasted, unsalted nuts are known for their health-promoting properties. Walnuts are a vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids and almonds provide a good dose of the antioxidant vitamin E. Brazil nuts, on the other hand, are a good source of selenium – an essential mineral needed for a healthy immune system and good thyroid function.

Turkey

One of the best sources of lean protein around, adding this holiday meal to your diet will improve your running performance. The protein keeps you full and supports muscle growth and repair. Turkey is also a source of B vitamins, selenium and zinc, which help maintain bone, eye and immune health as well as cognitive function. Choose an organic, free-range turkey to ensure the best quality meat.

Dark chocolate

Replace the family pack of Celebrations with a bar of good quality dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa. Generally speaking, the higher the cocoa content, the less sugar. Dark chocolate is a source of iron, magnesium and manganese. Magnesium can help with muscle recovery after running, so you can enjoy your chocolate in a bath of magnesium salts and claim it's all for your recovery. This Christmas I'll be giving Montezuma's black truffle-filled snowmen. (£5.99, montezumas.co.uk)

Cranberries

The perfect accompaniment to your Christmas dinner, cranberries are packed with health-promoting phytochemicals. They are high in fibre, which supports your digestive system, and also provide vitamin C. This vitamin is crucial for runners, especially in winter, as it helps maintain normal immune system function during and after exercise. Try making your own running-friendly cranberry sauce using fresh cranberries, orange peel, ground clove, water and xylitol, a natural and sugar-free sweetener.

Brussels sprouts

Whether you like them or not, it's not Christmas dinner without at least one sprout on your plate. And if you opt for a healthy portion this year, you'll get a good dose of vitamin C and vitamin K, which help promote healthy blood clotting and maintain strong bones. Why not use your leftover sprouts to make a runner-friendly salad with apple, red cabbage and walnuts?

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