I don’t know about you, but when December rolls around, my diet consists of tomato soup, macaroni and cheese, and Christmas cookies. There is little room in my brain for nutritional concerns – but there should be. Because in the third week of the month, I want garbage.
I know I should eat colorful fruits and vegetables, but in my mind produce is dead at this time of year. Turns out I was absolutely wrong.
“Fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients, which are activated when they change color (this happens when your produce is in season),” explains Dr Ruben Chen. “Because many health-promoting antioxidants are found in colors, your fruits and vegetables tell you when to eat them for the best nutrient intake.”
Here are some nutrient-dense winter foods I plan to incorporate into my diet this season — along with my macaroni and cheese and Christmas cookies, of course.
Although primarily associated with fall, pumpkin is a fantastic source of vitamins for winter. It’s both rich in beta-carotenes, which turn into vitamin A in the body, and rich in fiber. Pumpkin seeds are loaded with iron, zinc, and magnesium, so don’t throw them away.
Canned and fresh produce are viable options, though Chen says canned pumpkin has been a source of controversy among nutritionists.
“It depends on what you’re using it for,” he says. “If it’s purely for the nutrient profile, fresh is generally better. For baking, canned pumpkin will generally be more effective, but there are many ways to cook and prepare fresh pumpkin for pies and the like. meal.
He notes that when choosing canned varieties, you need to look at the ingredients to make sure it’s 100% pumpkin and low in sodium.
Beets, Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts
We decided to group them together because, as Chen so aptly put it, they really are the top three Bs.
“Not only do these vegetables taste great, they’re packed with vitamins A, B9, C, and K as well as potassium, magnesium, and zinc,” Chen says. “They are also a rich source of antioxidants in the form of betacyanins, phenolics, lutein, zeaxanthin and alpha-lipoic acid.”
Beets have an earthy flavor and are versatile in the kitchen. They contain a bit of almost every vitamin and mineral your body needs in the winter and are especially high in folate, a vitamin that plays a key role in heart health.
Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane, a byproduct of glucosinolate that has been widely studied for its ability to protect against cancer. Just one cup of raw broccoli provides 90% of your daily vitamin C requirements, which we desperately need during the winter months.
And good old Brussels sprouts, in addition to containing similar vitamins to beets and broccoli, contain an antioxidant called Kaempferol, which is in the study for its effectiveness in preventing cell damage.
There is an old tradition that Saint Nicholas leaves oranges in stockings in December. It is said to have started during the Great Depression when oranges were hard to come by and an absolute treat. While I think today’s kids might be a little disappointed to find an orange in their stocking, this fruit is a winter knockout.
Besides the huge amount of vitamin C that oranges contain, they also contain a ton of fiber which aids digestion. All varieties of oranges are ideal for a nutrient-dense snack, so try tangerines, tangerines, tangelos and clementines.
Known as the “fruit of the gods”, persimmons are sweet, brightly colored and an excellent source of vitamins A and C. They are rich in vitamins B1 and B2 and contain a bunch of plant compounds like tannins, flavonoids and carotenoids.
Studies show that persimmons may benefit heart health by lowering blood pressure, decreasing inflammation and lowering cholesterol levels.
Swiss chard or simply Swiss chard is often grown in winter gardens in places where the climate does not get too cold. Indeed, the vegetable tolerates frost well. (Also, did you know Swiss chard doesn’t come from Switzerland? That’s from the Mediterranean!)
A small serving of cooked Swiss chard covers you for your daily levels of vitamins K, A, C and magnesium. The dark leafy vegetable contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that fight chronic disease.
Errors when buying winter products
Chen says sneaky ingredients and additives can be stuffed into canned goods and care should be taken when shopping.
“Sodium and sugar levels can be high in some canned fruits and vegetables,” he says. “Don’t assume canned peaches mean it’s only canned peaches.”
He adds that fresh foods are generally preferred, although you should be careful about washing off pesticides and dirt.
“Hand soap and water rinses are unable to remove waxes and chemicals that frequently accumulate on fresh fruits and vegetables.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends using a cold water soak with baking soda for the most thorough wash of your produce. Fill a bowl or the sink with ⅔ cup of water, leaving room to add produce without the water overflowing. For a sink, add 3-4 tablespoons of baking soda and stir. For a large bowl, you just need 1 tsp. Leave to soak for fifteen minutes, rub off the excess and rinse again before drying.
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