Winter is the time for snuggling in cosy sweaters and hot cups of tea or coffee. It is also when you are most likely to catch the flu because of the nip in the air. But nature has its own remedies. We bring you a list of winter superfoods which are mostly found and eaten in winter and are packed with amazing benefits to beat the winter sniffles, allergies and boost your immunity.
Read on to find out which winter superfoods you should be eating in the cold months.
21 Winter Superfoods and their benefits
Nuts are believed to be warm in nature and the perfect cold-weather snack. Both Walnuts and Almonds contain a form of Vitamin E and antioxidants which promote cardiovascular health by decreasing the levels of bad cholesterol. Almonds also contain potassium and magnesium which help in maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Other nuts such as pecans and chestnuts also have high antioxidant levels and are beneficial in winter.
Also read: 10 High-Fibre Foods that your kid must have
#2. Sweet Potatoes
These are a delicious alternative to potatoes which are available mostly in the winter months. Sweet potatoes are rich in fibre, vitamins B and C and minerals including iron, calcium, selenium. They are also high in an antioxidant known as beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A once consumed. Since sweet potatoes are high in carbohydrates, it is best to eat them only occasionally.
Cranberries are one of the healthiest berries as fresh berries are low in sugar and help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels in diabetics. They provide anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits thus support heart health. They are known to provide benefits to people suffering from UTI (Urinary Tract Infections). Remember, to choose fresh cranberries and not dried or juice as they have added sugar and fewer vitamins.
This winter fruit is also called the Food of the Gods. It’s super-rich in vitamin C and contains many compounds that are being studied for their anti-cancer effects. The fruit and its juice may also help lower the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and cholesterol.
This colourful fruit is packed with vitamin C, with one large fruit containing up to 120% of your daily recommended dose of Vitamin C. Just be sure to pick the more colourful pink or orange grapefruits compared to their paler counterparts to get maximum benefits.
Apples are harvested in fall-winter though they are now available all year round thanks to the development in storage technology. Apples are packed with healthy fibre, support healthy blood sugar, a healthy heart and weight loss. They’re also good sources of vitamins A and C, iron and potassium.
Also read: Essential Winter Foods For Babies
Pears are a fall-winter fruit that are easy to store and keep. They have a low Glycemic Index, meaning they help control your blood sugar. They also contain vitamin C, Vitamin K, and potassium and are also said to guard against lung disease.
Kiwis are power packed with Vitamin C. A single kiwifruit has more Vitamin C than an orange and can provide your daily dose of Vitamin C which boosts the immune system and prevents seasonal colds and flu. Kiwi is also high in antioxidants and dietary fibre and helps aid digestion.
Lemons are full of vitamin C which is considered as the No.1 vitamin for fighting colds. Drinking lemon water regularly, especially in the winters will help prevent the flu and boost your immunity. They also contain compounds that protect us from cancer, eye disorders, and kidney stones.
#10. Chia Seeds
These unique seeds burst into the limelight a few years ago and have not lost their popularity, now being available in most major supermarkets across the world. One tablespoon of these seeds gives you about 19% of your daily recommended dose of fibre, and about 7-9% of your daily value of calcium, iron, and magnesium. Mix them in your oats or sprinkle some on your salad for your daily boost of health.
#11. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are one of the best sources of zinc and WHO recommends incorporating them in your diet to get this important mineral. Zinc should be an important part of our diet as it boosts immune function, cell metabolism and has positive effects on learning and memory. To get maximum benefits, roast pumpkin seeds for no more than 15-20 minutes.
Oats have special dietary benefits because of the high amount of soluble fibre in them which helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and hence improves cardiovascular health. Oats also have one of the lowest Glycemic Index of all grains and help regulate blood glucose levels. You should choose coarse oats rather than the ‘quick cook’ variety and eat them with milk and a little cinnamon rather than adding sugar for maximum benefits.
Though cauliflowers are now available throughout the year, the best ones are still found in winter. White cauliflower contains a host of vitamins and minerals including folate and vitamins B6, C, and K. The best way to eat cauliflower is to steam or roast it instead of boiling which destroys the healthy compounds.
Also read: 11 Essential winter foods for kids
This root vegetable is a powerful winter superfood. Radishes are full of fibre and have high water content and therefore keep you naturally hydrated. They have anti-congestive properties which help clear the mucous in the throat and therefore fight cough and cold. They are full of vitamin A, C, E, B6, potassium, and other minerals and can give your whole body an immunity boost.
Beetroots are a highly nutritious winter vegetable as they contain vitamin A, Vitamin B-6 and minerals like iron, magnesium and folic acid. They are also great for fighting inflammation and detoxifying the system and boost heart health by regulating blood pressure and improving blood flow. Beetroots can be juiced, steamed or eaten in a salad.
Carrots are a winter vegetable rich in Beta Carotene which converts to Vitamin A once consumed. Studies have indicated that people who eat at least one serving of carrot daily have better bone health. Carrots are also good for eye health. People who ate carrots regularly had lower levels of glaucoma. They also promote liver health and provide protection from certain types of cancer.
Cabbage is a reasonable and widely available winter vegetable used in a multitude of cuisines. In a recently conducted study, cabbage was found to be one of the vegetables which helped prevent type-2 diabetes. Red cabbage especially is high in antioxidants and therefore prevents cardiovascular diseases. Cabbage also has a unique compound called ‘isothiocyanate’ which has shown unique cancer preventive properties with respect to bladder cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer.
Also read: 11 Superfoods You Should have while Breastfeeding
Kale is currently enjoying a lot of popularity as a trendy superfood. It is one of the only vegetables which contain a compound called ‘lutein’ which supports eye health. Steamed kale also provides cholesterol-lowering benefits. Kale contains two types of antioxidants which provide cancer prevention benefits. The Omega-3 fatty acid and vitamin K present in kale also provide powerful anti-inflammatory benefits.
Cinnamon is a warming winter spice that can help promote younger-looking skin. Cinnamon has significant benefits for people with Type 2 Diabetes as it improves their ability to respond to insulin, thus normalising their blood sugar levels. Just smelling the wonderful smell of cinnamon has been found to boost positive brain activity. Simply sprinkle some cinnamon on your morning cuppa to get a health boost.
Surprised that this is one of the winter superfoods? Why though? Turmeric might be the healthiest spice in your kitchen packing a lot of punch for every pinch. It has significant anti-inflammatory benefits, decreases cancer risk, and support blood detoxification. Studies also indicate that it improves cognitive function, blood sugar balance, and kidney function, as well as lessening the severity and pain associated with certain forms of arthritis and certain digestive disorders.
Also read: 10 Superfoods For 1-3 Year Old Kids (Plus Recipes)
One of the best winter superfoods is ginger. It is a powerful root vegetable full of medicinal qualities - it is antimicrobial and provides anti-nausea benefits, especially during pregnancy. Ginger also contains a chemical called “Gingerol” which helps decrease inflammation, reduces pain and is therefore helpful to people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. To avail its benefits, add ginger to your daily cup of tea or some grated ginger to your vegetable curry.