Winter superfoods
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Winter superfoods

04.02.2022

If you're mourning the loss of your favorite summer superfoods, we feel your pain. But we do have some good news: the cold season is also full of winter superfoods. Find out which are our favorite winter superfoods.

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When the cooler months roll around, we lose more than just a few hours of daylight—all the fresh fruits and vegetables of summer disappear, too. If you're mourning the loss of your favorite summer superfoods, we feel your pain. But we do have some good news: the cold season is also full of winter superfoods. All winter superfoods pack a serious nutritional punch and are just waiting to be worked into your favorite cold-weather recipes.

What is a superfood, anyway?

Let's back up for a sec…what qualifies as a "superfood"? Is there an official definition?

Nope, not really—at least not in any scientific sense. The term is basically a marketing buzzword used to get consumers to buy more of the types of foods they should be eating. Never thought of cooking with kale? You might once it's been called a "superfood" instead of a plain ol' leafy green vegetable. That doesn't mean that superfoods don't deliver on their nutritional promises, though.

Generally, a food is promoted to superfood star status when it delivers ample amounts of vitamins and minerals with antioxidant power, is linked to the prevention of a disease, or is thought to offer several health benefits.

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How (and why) you should eat more winter superfoods?

Before you assume that superfoods must be obscure, expensive, or hard to find outside of specialty stores, rest assured that's simply not the case. Walk down the produce aisle at your local grocery store or shop your local farmers market and you'll find what I consider superfoods: non-processed, whole, plant-based foods [that can] supply us with important nutrients like fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. And if you want to maximize the power of superfoods, it's as simple as buying in-season ones. Buying seasonal superfoods—even the winter superfoods—means they will be:

  • Cheaper, because they are in abundance;
  • Fresher, because they are often harvested at the peak of ripeness;
  • More environmentally-friendly, because they're harvested from local sources (which decreases the amount of fuel used to transport your food to the store).
  • And more nutritious than their out-of-season counterparts. The longer produce sits on the shelves, [the more] nutrient and antioxidant availability can decrease. Long transport times and 'expiring' on grocery store shelves seems to dramatically affect the nutrient density of produce.

What are our favourite winter superfoods you should buy?

Now that you know what superfoods are—and why you should buy them!—you can go shopping. The winter superfoods are all in-season during the winter months, just ready and waiting on grocery shelves to share their nutritional benefits.

Ginger

Looking for a natural way to fight off or recover from one of the many nasty viruses that circulate during the winter? Your search ends with ginger, which has been used for centuries to improve digestion, soothe upset stomachs, and boost your immune system. It's often available year-round, but the freshest roots are likely to be those harvested in the winter months.

Ginger is pretty potent when it comes to flavor, so a little goes a long way—but a little also goes great in Asian-inspired dishes like stir fry, or steeped in hot water as a fresh ginger tea.

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Kale

Are you low in potassium? Kale is here to save the day as one of the most versatile winter superfoods.

Potassium can help reduce blood pressure by removing excess sodium from the body. In fact, increasing potassium intake might be just as impactful as reducing sodium intake for lowering blood pressure.

Pregnant women should also take note: kale is a great source of folate, a nutrient that helps form the fetal neural tube. A cold-weather plant, it peaks mainly in fall and winter. To add more kale to your diet, swap it out for spinach in your soups, make kale chips, or shred it to make a salad.

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Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are bursting with vitamin C, making them ideal in the winter months when cold and flu season hits. She adds that citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons are also high in minerals and phytochemicals, i.e. plant-based chemicals the American Institute for Cancer Research says may help reduce the risk of cancer.

Navel and blood oranges are ripe during the coldest, snowiest months of the year. Blend the flesh of oranges into your smoothies for a fresh OJ flavor, mix up a grapefruit salad, or add lemon wedges to your afternoon tea.

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Apples

Did you know that apples are a great source of vitamin C, did you? Getting adequate vitamin C is key for immune support (super helpful during cold and flu season) and that apples also contain pectin, a soluble fiber that has been shown to help reduce cholesterol levels. Apple season arrives toward the end of summer but often continues well into late fall or early winter, depending on where you live.

Eating the peel of apples because delivers a large percentage of the fiber and phytonutrients are found within the peel. Apple is a great snack with some almond butter or in a kale salad alongside roasted butternut squash or sweet potato.

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Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes a great source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that fights free radical damage and inflammation. 

Add diced sweet potatoes to soups and chilis whenever you're bored of baking them (although a baked sweet potato is a simple and yummy way to round out a meal). Or, if you're feeling adventurous, try your hand at sweet potato toast for breakfast.

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Leeks

Leeks is a hefty source of magnesium. Deficient of that mineral can lead to anxiety and irritability.

Leeks pair wonderfully with winter soups and salads, like this low-carb cauliflower leek soup. They have a slightly milder taste than their onion relatives and can fit easily into most of your go-to recipes. 

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And what are your favorite winter superfoods and recipes with them?