5 Foods to Keep you Healthy & Warm in Winter
We are a part of nature, and our bodies are influenced by its cycles. Winter changes our diet habits – as there is less sun and outside temperature goes down, we are drawn to hearty, fatty, hot and spicy food, but we are always in need of plant food too. Luckily, nowadays we can find a great variety of fresh seasonal food from all over the world in our supermarkets.
You can find best for your health not only in supermarkets but also at farmers markets – both of the options could provide you with a variety of food. Farmers markets are a good option to support the local economy and find seasonal fruits and veggies of your region. They cost less when they are in season, so it is a good way to save money too. (1)
SNAP-Ed suggests a list of winter seasonal fruits and veggies as following (1):
The name speaks for itself why it is a perfect match for your winter healthy plate. Like their summertime cousins, winter squashes hold up well in hearty soups, stews, casseroles, breads, and desserts. The flesh may be scooped and eaten straight from its shell after cooking, and seeds are also edible and nutritious. Fairly low in calories (45-90 calories per cup cooked, depending on type), winter squashes are rich in carotenoids, protein, vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. (2)
Delicious kale has a wide variety of colors, flavors, and textures, but all of them are rich in vitamins K, C and A. Cruciferous vegetables, like kale, contain unique natural chemicals that are being researched for their proposed ability in humans to affect chronic conditions including certain types of cancer and heart disease. (3) The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults eat at least 1½ cups of dark-green vegetables per week. (4)
Good old potato is an excellent source of two immunity boosters – vitamins C and B6. Potatoes are nourishing and available in winter, not even speaking about what you could cook of it – from smashed potato to oil-free baked French fries. They are also a good source of folate, and they deliver fiber (4 grams in a medium potato; women need 25 grams daily and men need 38 grams). (5)
Kiwi or kiwifruit is exceptionally high in vitamin C – almost three times the amount found in oranges and strawberries. Just 1 cup of kiwi provides about 273% of your daily recommended value. (6) Vitamin C contributes to normal collagen formation for the normal function of blood vessels, bones, skin, the nervous system, the immune system (7), especially in winter when cold and flu are common illnesses.
All of the legumes – like beans, peas, and peanuts – are high in plant protein. Chemicals released after eating protein enhance mental concentration and alertness which is good for the winter season when everything is slowing down. (8) Besides protein, legumes are a good source of other nutrients, such as folate, calcium, potassium, zinc, B vitamins, and antioxidants. (9) There are also ethical and environmentally friendly reasons to choose legumes instead of red meat. With comparable levels of protein legumes doesn’t contain much saturated fat and could be a good replacement for regular servings of red meat.
- Seasonal Produce Guide by SNAP-Ed Connection. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Available at: https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide
- Winter Squash. The Nutrition Source. Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition. Available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/winter-squash/
- Kale. The Nutrition Source. Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition. Available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/kale/
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, Eighth Edition. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/appendix-3/
- Kerri-Ann Jennings 5 of the Healthiest Winter Foods. EatingWell. December 07, 2011. Available at: http://www.eatingwell.com/article/37860/5-of-the-healthiest-winter-foods/
- Ana Gotter 7 Health Benefits of Kiwi. Healthline. September 17, 2018. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/7-best-things-about-kiwi
- Richardson DP, Ansell J, Drummond LN. The nutritional and health attributes of kiwifruit: a review. Eur J Nutr. 2018;57(8):2659-2676. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6267416/
- Eating to Lift Your Winter Blues. Cleveland Clinic. March 28, 2019. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/14080-eating-to-lift-your-winter-blues
- Legumes: A quick and easy switch to improve your diet. Harvard Health Publishing. December, 2018. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/legumes-a-quick-and-easy-switch-to-improve-your-diet
Illustration: Ralph (Ravi) Kayden/Unsplash.com
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