The Best Winter Foods

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

November 13, 2013

  • Inferior winter produce comes with a hefty price tag
  • Fresh seasonal foods to delight your taste buds
  • Create hearty and healthy meals all winter long

These days you can buy produce any time of the year. But even though it’s on your grocery store shelves, it doesn’t mean it’s fresh and bursting with nutrition.

You see, a lot of produce is shipped in from other parts of the world. That means they have to be harvested early – before they’re ripe!

This affects both the taste and the nutritional value of these foods.

Often times they are irradiated to delay ripening.

And while this reduces things like bacteria, fungus and parasites, it also zaps certain nutrients right out of otherwise healthy foods. These nutrients include vitamins A, C, D, E, K and many of the B vitamins.

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Irradiation also produces something called “radiolytic byproducts.” Some of these chemicals, like formaldehyde and benzene can increase your risk of cancer.

And that’s not the worst of it. You have to pay a hefty price for purchasing these flavorless, nutrient-deficient and chemically enhanced fruits and vegetables.

You’re much better off eating seasonal produce than settling for a pricier and much more inferior product.

And there are plenty of healthy, delicious choices for the winter months. Let me show you which ones I recommend…

Although many people don’t realize it, Citrus fruits are at their peak during these winter months. The cold makes them sweeter and juicier than at any other time of the year. Some of the citrus fruits you may enjoy include grapefruit, oranges, kiwi, tangerines and mandarins.

When people think of citrus fruits, their first thought is the vitamin C content. And it’s true. These fruits are a great source of vitamin C.

But the real power comes in their flavonoid content.

Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant that works in many ways to improve your health. They’ve been shown to lower cholesterol and triglycerides. They improve insulin response, help control blood pressure and slow inflammatory response.

Dark green leafy vegetables are an excellent addition to wintertime meals. And the great thing about them is there are so many to choose from. You can try broccoli, spinach, chard, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, lettuces, mustard greens and many others. Each has a unique flavor, so you don’t feel like you’re eating the “same thing” day after day.

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Better yet, they are brimming with nutrients that protect you against all sorts of chronic disease. Not only do studies show proof of their protective qualities, but the USDA admits these veggies have powerful health properties. They can fight inflammation, protect your bones, decrease risk of heart disease, improve diabetes and lower the risk of certain types of cancer.

Winter squash is also a good bet when it comes to fresh winter food choices. And there are many varieties to choose from. You’ve got butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash and more. Even pumpkin – typically not lumped in the squash family – is a squash.

I know. Their shapes and hard-skinned exteriors can make squash look a bit intimidating. But they are filled with tasty “meat” that’s high in vitamin A, fiber and vitamin C.

I suggest giving them a try. Some people mash them up like you would potatoes. I personally like cubing them up and adding them to soups and stews. Just don’t let their odd shapes and colors keep you from trying them out.

These are all great choices for winter meals. But wait until you see this…

There are many other seasonal foods that can fill you up and benefit your health during the winter months. Pomegranates, cranberries, pears, carrots, turnips, avocados, artichokes, sweet potatoes and even that weird-looking thing called a rutabaga all are at their peak during the winter.

You can use them to make a three-course meal or just toss a bunch of them together for a heart wintertime soup.

Here’s some ways to fill a meal with these delights:

Starter: Add a little tartness to a mixed green salad by topping it with fresh cranberries. You can also slice up some avocado. Then sprinkle on a handful of nuts and drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Entrée: Steam or broil your favorite fish. Serve it up with blanched broccoli or steamed spinach and add a sweet potato, turnip or winter squash mash.

Desert: Make up a nice citrus salad to finish off the meal. Just toss some oranges, grapefruit and kiwi into a bowl. For added flavor, you can top with coconut or your favorite nuts.

And that’s just one suggestion. Play around and find out which choices you like.

And remember! When choosing your fruits and vegetables, don’t forget to buy organic.

Irradiation in the Production, Processing and Handling of Food. Federal Register. Vol. 77, No. 231. Friday, November 30, 2012. Rules and Regulations

Assini JM, Mulvihill EE, Huff MW. Citrus flavonoids and lipid metabolism. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2013 Feb;24(1):34-40.

Patrice Carter, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2010; 341:c4229

Dark Green Leafy Vegetables. News Article. United States Department of Agriculture. 2013.

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