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Winter Survival Fare
To help you stay happy and healthy this winter, here are my top 5 winter fruits and vegetables for your best immune health.
We’ve all been there: you wake up one morning with that familiar tickle in your throat or tightness in your chest. Your head feels light and your body aches. Yep, it’s official: you’re getting sick.
Adults suffer from an average of two to three colds per year, typically between the months of October and March. Nutritious whole fruits and vegetables really are the most authentic way to fight a cold or flu, and there are some superstar winter favourites that not only taste amazing, but are literally designed by nature to help power you through the cold and flu season feeling better than ever.
Although they can be a bit of a pain to eat, pomegranates are definitely worth the effort (and the stained fingers!). One of the healthiest fruits on the planet, pomegranates contain a range of beneficial plant compounds unrivaled by other foods and have many proven health benefits. First, they have a big dose of immune boosting vitamin C, which is greatly depleted in winter months. Their nutrition profile also includes vitamin K, A and E, folate, and potassium along with a fantastic dose of gut-friendly fiber (7 grams per cup!). They have also been shown to help stomach upsets, menopausal hot flashes, hemorrhoids, conjunctivitis, and osteoarthritis, as well as, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol – whew! Plus, their beautiful bright colour makes them the ideal addition to any dish – especially during the holidays! Try sprinkling the arils into a vibrant green salad, a warm quinoa dish, or even on top of your morning oatmeal for a colourful, nutrient-packed pop.
Many people associate citrus with the summer months, but some of my favourite citrus treats are actually in season during the winter months, including blood oranges and clementines. Both of these sweet winter fruits contain a host of nutrients that will keep you healthy through the colder months and the years ahead. Blood oranges’ red pigmentation contains anthocyanins, which have known anti-inflammatory properties that prevent against many diseases, including cancer, diabetes and bacterial infections (including the common cold and strep throat). And both of these orange gems are bursting with immune-boosting vitamin C, which is not only essential for immune health but also for digestive and bowel health because of its mild, laxative effect. They also both offer good doses of potassium, calcium and beta-carotene, which can help with everything from quelling anxiety, building strong bones and supporting healthy eyes. Bonus? Although they taste sweet, clementines are actually low in sugar. And, since they come in their own carrying case (the peel) they are the perfect on-the-go snack!
Like most dark leafy greens, kale is pretty much synonymous with good health—and for good reason: it’s a great source of beta carotene, vitamin C and phytochemicals, called isothiocyanates, that amp up the body’s detoxifying enzymes, helping to keep you healthy and energized all winter long. Speaking of energy, kale is also high in iron. In fact, per calorie kale has more iron than beef. And as you may or may not know, iron is essential for good health, such as the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function and more. And if that wasn’t enough, kale is a great anti-inflammatory food. One cup of kale has 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight against arthritis, asthma, autoimmune disorders and other inflammatory illnesses. Since winter is all about warming foods that are soothing to your digestive system, a great way to enjoy kale is in a delicious bowl of soup. Try it in your favourite minestrone or pureed green soup recipe for a comforting and immune-boosting meal.
4. Spaghetti Squash
Nothing is better than a heaping bowl of hot, hearty pasta on a cold day – except that it comes with a caloric price tag of 200 calories per cup (and who has just one cup?). Enter spaghetti squash – my favourite wintertime pasta alternative. Not only does it check in at only 42 calories per cup, it also boasts a nutrition profile that’s hard to beat. Unlike your traditional white pasta, this versatile squash contains vitamin A and vitamin C, which can help prevent free radical damage to cells along with boosting immune health. Spaghetti squash is also rich in the B vitamins riboflavin, niacin, and thiamin, which promote optimal cellular function and can also help prevent seasonal depression that can affect many during the colder, darker months. Spaghetti squash is also perfect for expectant moms because of its high amounts of folate, which is crucial for the formation and development of new cells and helps prevent birth defects. So break out your best tomato sauce recipe and get your spaghetti (squash) on!
Garlic has long been used for its powerful health and medicinal qualities, treating everything from digestive issues to heart disease. Garlic is a true nutrient powerhouse, boasting high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, selenium and various other important minerals.
And when it comes to combating cold and flu, garlic just may be the most powerful tool in your nutritional arsenal. In fact, numerous studies have shown that taking raw garlic can reduce the number of days sick with a cold by more than half!
Furthermore, enjoying garlic daily either in food or as a supplement can help protect yourself from getting sick at all. And the best part is it can be enjoyed in so many ways, from soups, to salad dressings, to homemade dips – the sky’s the limit when it comes to delicious ways to reap all this amazing powerfood’s benefits all winter long.
So, there you have it – 5 amazing ways that Mother Nature has your back when it comes to staying healthy during cold and flu season! And with these tasty and wholesome foods on the menu, fending off those sniffles has never tasted so good.
Adele Cavaliere is a Holistic Nutritionist, published author of the book “21 Days to Detoxify Your Life,” is an elite fitness trainer, yoga instructor and founder of Nutri-School. Adele has worked with countless people empowering them to transform their lives, their bodies and their careers! www.adelecavaliere.com
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