Wintertime is here! Time for puffy coats, holiday celebrations, and cold day after cold day.
While it may be tempting to combat chilly weather with hot cider, trays of cookies, and starchy side dishes, winter is also the peak time of year for many delicious, nutritious “superfoods.”
Here are seven wonderfully healthy foods worth checking out this winter:
Root vegetables include a diverse—and tasty—array of winter greats, including:
- Celery Root
As their name implies, these vegetables grow underground where they absorb plenty of minerals and nutrients from the soil; they’re also high in fiber, and offer plenty of other unique health benefits. For instance, parsnips are surprisingly high in vitamin C, while beets are a great source of anthocyanins, an antioxidant that has been proven to help with heart health.
Even better? All of these tasty, nutrient-rich veggies are versatile, and super-easy to prepare. Whether served boiled, roasted, stewed, or raw, these colorful root vegetables are sure to please.
In the summertime, it may be true that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But when the weather turns cold, it’s the pear’s time to shine.
Bosc and Comice pears peak in the late fall through the early winter, while the Anjou is known as the “winter pear” because it also flourishes late in the year.
Whatever variety of pear you buy, you’re in for a sweet and juicy treat. Fresh pears are delicious, and they’re also perfect for cooking and baking. And while you partake in that wintertime pear, you’ll also be doing your body a favor, since they’re loaded with good stuff like vitamin B2, vitamin E, copper, and pectin.
Pirates used to load up on citrus fruits when they sailed the seven seas because these healthy powerhouses helped them reduce the risk of developing scurvy.
Well, you don’t need to have an eye-patch or call your friends scallywags to enjoy—and benefit from—a nice piece of citrus. In fact, many of these tart, sweet, healthy fruits actually hit their peak in the dead of winter, including grapefruits, oranges, lemons, and limes.
In addition to adding a pop of color and a welcome hit of acid to monochromatic wintertime menus, citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C, and are also a good source of fiber, vitamin B, calcium, and antioxidants. Citrus fruits also provide phytochemicals, including flavonoids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation, combat free radicals, and help with the absorption of iron.
Whether you get the green, purple, or white varieties, cabbage is a hearty, filling wintertime option—one that is pretty affordable too, and will keep for quite a long time when properly stored.
It’s easy to fill up on cabbage, and even easier to serve it in plenty of different (and delicious) ways, including roasted, stuffed, or chopped up into a healthy salad or slaw.
And while you’re feasting on cabbage, you’ll also be filling up on all that it offers! Cabbage is rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate, and has been shown to help lower cholesterol and even reduce the risk of developing certain cancers.
Want to talk about versatility? There are virtually no limits to the ways in which you can prepare and serve cauliflower. For that reason, it’s become a popular, healthy replacement for all sorts of other foods, including potatoes, grains, and meat.
Whether served roasted, mashed, pureed, steamed, or raw, cauliflower offers diners a plethora of vitamins and minerals, including:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
Cauliflower, like other cruciferous vegetables, also contains phytochemicals known as isothiocyanates, which may help in the prevention of certain cancers, including lung, esophageal, and gastrointestinal cancer.
Winter Gourds and Squashes
Hearty, healthy, delicious, and perfectly suited for wintertime, gourds and squashes are a great addition to your cold weather menu.
Plenty of great gourds and savory squashes flourish in winter, including:
- Acorn squash
- Butternut squash
- Spaghetti squash
- Hubbard squash
All of these are easy to integrate into earthy, comforting dishes—perfect for cold winter nights— including soups, stews, and roasts. And the healthy benefits will also leave you feeling warm and fuzzy; gourds come loaded with beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant known to help give the immune system a boost. Winter squashes are also high in vitamin A, potassium, protein, and good fibers.
A rule of thumb to remember? Look for great color. As nutritionist Mindy Hermann, MBA, RDN, told WebMD: All pumpkins and winter squash are great, but the more colorful they are, the more they are superfoods.”
As the weather turns colder, a lot of people start to crave big, bold, and homey flavors. The good news is that common winter spices and seasonings offer not just delicious tastes and warming memories, but also plenty of health benefits.
This winter, do yourself a favor and season your holiday meals with:
- Chia seeds
As nutritionist Eileen Behan, RD, LD, told WebMD, warming spices like these “are anti-inflammatory and have antioxidant power.” In particular, cinnamon has been shown to lower blood sugar levels, and turmeric has become extremely popular among healthy eaters for its anti-inflammatory effects and other health benefits.
While a little less flavorful than some of the other seasonings on this list, chia seeds offer great texture and an earthy note to breakfasts and desserts, and they are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which can leave you feeling fuller for longer.
And now, the Enrollment Specialists would like to know your ideas! How are you filling up your fridge this winter? What foods do you stock up on to stay healthy and fit, all season long? Let us know in the comments!
And don’t forget, when it comes to any questions about your health or life insurance, we won’t leave you out in the cold! Drop us a line today to get the conversation started!