The Best Fruits and Veggies to Get You Through the Winter

There’s a lot to look forward to in winter, but fresh produce doesn’t make the list. With fewer fruits and vegetables in season than there are in summer, you may be relying on foods with an inferior nutritional profile to get you through the cold months.

winter foods

During the chilly weather, your body goes through changes in energy levels and metabolism, so you need all the sustenance you can get. In colder climates, it’s particularly challenging to find fresh local produce during the winter. But that doesn’t mean you need to survive the winter on potatoes and onions alone—there are a number of healthy winter foods that have a wide range of nutrients to offer.

Healthiest Winter Foods

All you need is some planning and creativity to add some fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables to your winter diet. The following list includes vitamin-rich winter foods you should stock up on to ensure a healthy diet this winter.

1. Cabbage

If you don’t already eat cabbage regularly, it’s time to start now. Cabbage is one of the most popular winter foods you should be eating. It’s incredibly healthy—packed with vitamins C and K, folate, fibre, antioxidants and carcinogen-fighting compounds known as glucosinolates. And an added benefit is that it’s budget-friendly too!

Research shows cabbage can lower cholesterol and cut the risk of cancer and diabetes. Like cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli are other cold-weather favourites that are loaded with nutrients.

2. Dark Leafy Greens

Ideally, dark leafy greens should be a part of your diet throughout the year. Lucky for us, these healthy veggies thrive in winter while other produce succumbs to the cold weather. Kale, chard and collard greens are chock-full of nutrients like vitamins A, C and K, in addition to dietary fibre, folic acid, potassium and magnesium.

Leafy greens also contain a range of phytochemicals, such as lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene. A healthy diet rich in dark leafy greens can help lower the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Kale, for instance, is one of the healthiest winter vegetables. Rich in vitamins A, C and K, as well as a great source of calcium, kale is a superfood that actually gets tastes better when the frost hits the ground.

3. Carrots

Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, the red-orange pigment that has potent antioxidant properties. This pigment is also converted into vitamin A in your body.  When the weather gets cold, the starches in carrots convert into sugars. This makes them sweeter in winter.

The beta-carotene in carrots acts as an antioxidant to counter cell damage in the body. Carrots are a great source vitamins A, B8, C and K, pantothenic acid, folate, potassium, iron, copper   and manganese. Vitamin A and antioxidants protect the eyes, as well as reduce the harmful effects of sun damage on the skin.

One cup of cooked carrots contains 70 calories and 4 grams of fibre.

4. Sweet Potatoes

Not only are sweet potatoes delicious and healthy, they are versatile and can be used to make pies, fries, stews and even muffins. Like pumpkins, sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin A. They are also rich in vitamin C, calcium, iron and potassium.

One baked, medium-sized sweet potato provides 438% of your daily vitamin A requirement. It also contains 4 grams of fibre that helps you feel full. Baked sweet potatoes are a healthier alternative to regular potatoes. Avoid slathering butter or cream on this delicious winter food to keep the calories in check.

winter foods

5. Winter Squash

Butternut, acorn, delicata and spaghetti squash are all varieties of winter squash. No matter which one you choose, they’re all great options in the winter. Like sweet potatoes, winter squash is one of the most readily available and versatile winter foods that can be prepared in a number of ways.

One cup of cooked winter squash has only 80 calories, but contains more than enough vitamin A (214 percent of the recommended daily intake). Winter squash is also rich in vitamins C, B6 and K, potassium and folate.

6. Persimmons

According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, eating one persimmon a day is better for your heart than eating an apple. Persimmons contain twice as much dietary fibre per 100g as apples, in addition to many phenolic compounds that are believed to prevent heart disease.

The high antioxidant content of persimmons can help prevent cell damage and many chronic health conditions. Persimmons are rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals like vitamins A and B, magnesium, calcium and iron. Like carrots, they are also a great source of beta-carotene.

7. Beets

Beets are one of the healthiest winter foods, and a rich source of many essential nutrients such as vitamins A, B, C, E and K. They also provide dietary fibre, folate, calcium, iron and potassium. This healthy root vegetable is rich in betacyanin—a compound that can help prevent cancer.

The beet greens are the healthiest part of the root, so don’t throw them out. You can cook them like you could spinach or swiss chard. Beets should be boiled with their skin intact so that the nutrients are retained. You can add beets to stews, soups and salad, or eat them plain with yogurt and seasoned with herbs.

8. Chestnuts

Chestnuts are a winter favourite that are in season for a brief time—from October to December. So the best time to eat them is now. Chestnuts are relatively low in calories and fat, while being packed with minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients that bestow a variety of health benefits. Chestnuts are a great source of vitamin C.

They also add a slightly sweet, nutty flavor to veggies and breads. Roasting chestnuts is the best way to prepare them.

9. Dates

Despite their small size, dates pack a lot of nutrients. They are popular in winter in many countries around the world.

Dates are a good source of energy, as well as minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and zinc, and vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate and vitamins A and vitamin K.

Rumana Dsouza

Rumana D’Souza is the social media and content coordinator for Prizm Media and Kudolife. She has found her life’s calling in writing about health and wellness, and believes she can make the world a touch healthier – one blog post at a time.

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