The evenings are darker, the temperature is dropping and we feel less and less inclined to venture outside. In fact we often want to get home from wherever we are, close the door put the kettle on, make ourselves a nice hot drink and snuggle on the sofa.
As lovely and cosy as that all sounds, inactivity and cold weather can lead us into temptation of the wrong types of food. We gravitate to more “comfort” food which can often be dense in calories, sugar and fat.
So here are five winter “stars” of the nutrition world which you can enjoy knowing that they will help you get through these months healthy and energized.
I love pomegranates but let’s face it they can be a little time consuming and fiddly to eat, so for sure add them to your shopping cart, but grabbing a bottle of pomegranate juice might mean your get all the benefits of this wonderful nutritious fruit without the effort. Pomegranate juice is rich in antioxidants, in fact more so than many other fruit juices. One cup daily might help to keep free radicals from oxidizing “bad” LDL cholesterol. Oxidized LDL contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries. It may also improve blood flow to the heart in people with myocardial ischemia, a serious condition in which the heart’s oxygen supply is compromised because the arteries leading to it are blocked.
2. Dark Leafy Greens
Getting good produce in winter can often be a challenge but dark leafy greens, such as kale, chard and collards, thrive in the chill of winter. In fact, a frost can take away the bitterness of kale. These greens are particularly rich in vitamins A, C and K. Collards, mustard greens and escarole are also excellent sources of folate.
Citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit are at their juiciest in the wintertime and are loaded with vitamin C. In fact one medium orange delivers more than 100 percent of your daily requirement. Citrus fruits are also abundant in flavonoids. The predominant flavonoid in these fruits, hesperidin, is credited with boosting “good” HDL cholesterol and lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
We have all started to see potatoes as the “enemy” as they are targeted as an unhealthy white starch. However, unlike white rice or white bread they have not been stripped of healthful nutrients. The last time I looked potatoes are a whole food that contain several beneficial nutrients. They are an excellent source of two immunity boosters such as vitamins C and B6, delivering 25% and 29% of your daily needs per medium potato, respectively. 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). Look for purple potatoes as they are rich in anthocyanins antioxidants which are linked to a host of health benefits, from lowering cancer and heart disease risk to quelling inflammation.
5. Winter Squash
There are so many varieties of winter squash to choose from and they are all excellent choices to add to your winter menu. They are low in calories, one cup of cooked winter squash has approximately 80 calories but packs a healthy punch of vitamin A (214 percent of the recommended daily value) and vitamin C (33 percent), as well as being a good source of vitamins B6 and K, potassium and folate.