It’s that time of the year when the days are shorter and you need to unpack those neatly folded sweaters from their bunks. All you want to do is lay in front of the fireplace in the evenings and bask in the warm soothing sunshine in the mornings. Life seems to slow down and there’s lethargy in everything you see. So, now, you’ve two options – sit around all day thinking about legit reasons to skip work or you can keep yourself healthy and warm and enjoy the bliss of the season. And if you have decided to go with the second option, then here’s the post worth checking. Today I am sharing the list of best winter foods that’ll help you beat the cold by keeping you warmer this season.
Ever wondered about why we like eating carrots in winter? That’s because ideally we should be eating foods which is grown in that season. Researchers and food experts also recommend eating seasonal food. Certain food is best suited in winter and there are other food which best suits us in summer like watermelon is best enjoyed in summer and grapes tastes great in winter. The point I am trying to make is pretty simple – we should cook and eat food according to season. We should prefer food which is locally grown and is fresh and that’s when we get the maximum benefits.
And since winter is here, today let’s discuss about the best winter foods which will help keep our body warmer.
Best winter foods that’ll help you beat the cold
Ideally in winter season, we should eat winter foods to keep our body warmer. Even experts believe that eating seasonal and locally grown food is the best way to beat the cold and enjoy the taste. Thankfully, in winter season you have plenty of fresh winter special vegetables and food that you can enjoy. Listed below are some of the best winter foods you should be eating this winter to beat the cold and stay warmer.
So are you ready? Let’s dive in, then.
This pretty, orange-hued herb has a lot of benefits. It’s rich in Vitamin C or Ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid enhances production of white blood cells in the body. More WBC’s means an improved production of collagen which is a necessary agent of cellular production, leading to rapid muscle growth and tissue and repair.
Saffron is known to improve blood circulation in the body. It contains abundant iron which stimulates growth of red blood cells. This results in improved circulation of blood and good oxygenation of all the organ systems in the body including the extreme parts like toes.
Saffron contains manganese which is effective in keeping our blood sugar level in check. By regulating the glucose and insulin level in the blood, you can avert type-II diabetes or control the symptoms if you already suffer from this malady.
Saffron is also beneficial in treating mild depression and anxiety. Saffron also contains calcium, which stimulates good bone mineral density and keeps bone-related disorders at bay, like brittle or weak bones, osteoporosis etc.
The health benefits of honey are practically endless.
Honey is an exceptional home remedy for treating coughs. It reduces mucus secretion and hence works a natural cough syrup. According to this study, honey is just as effective as diphenhydramine and dextromethorphan, the most common ingredients of cough syrups.
Honey is also an natural anti-oxidant that inhibits disease-causing free radicals in the body. Thus, it also augments the immune system of the body and helps keeps the illnesses away. Honey is rich in polyphenols, which is not only a powerful anti-oxidant but also prevents heart diseases and cancer.
Honey thwarts pollen allergies. According to this study, honey relieves the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Symptoms of rhinitis include watery eyes, sneezing, itchiness etc.
Almonds are a superb source of Vitamin E, which sustains healthy skin and lowers signs of ageing.
Almonds contain high quantities of catechin, epicatechin and flavonol antioxidants, including quercetin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin that prevents skin cancer and skin damage by reversing oxidative stress caused chiefly by pollution and UV rays. The healthy fats found in almonds improves blood circulation and keeps the skin hydrated.
This nut is also beneficial for keeping our digestive system healthy and detoxify the body. A study conducted by Food Science & Technology in China in 2014, reported that when women ate a daily dose of 56 grams of almonds over a stretch of eight-weeks, a notable increase occurs in the populations of healthy bacteria called Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.
Almonds also contain good amount of magnesium and phosphorus, which are important nutrients for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. Almonds prevent tooth decay, lowers the risk of weak bones and bone fractures.
Ginger is a very well known ingredient in every household to treat common cold and flu. Because ginger is so effectual at warming the body, it prevents toxins from getting accumulated in the organs. It is also known to cleanse the lymphatic system, which is our body’s sewage system.
It flushes out the toxins from the body and restores its normal health. Ginger has excellent anti-microbial properties. It eliminates different bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes more effectively than synthetic antibiotics.
Ginger counters malabsorption and stimulates proper digestion and metabolism of food.
Ginger prevents the blood from getting clotted inside the body and thus prevents heart attacks and strokes.
Cinnamon is a very common spice in every kitchen. Its strong aroma and rich flavor make it an indispensable cooking spice.
Additionally, cinnamon has quite a lot of health benefits. It is anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. The essential oils of cinnamon are capable of amplifying the immune system of the body.
Cinnamon, can also be used as sweetener instead of sugar. Since it slows down sugar from being released into the blood stream, it helps us avert weight gain and food cravings.
Cinnamon is also good for skin. It can be directly applies to get rid of swelling, redness, rashes and pain.
If you feel chilled or if you are showing symptoms of common cold, mix a quarter spoon of cinnamon powder with a spoonful of honey and consume it twice daily, for at least 3 days.
Another way you can consume cinnamon is by making its tea. Pour cinnamon powder, honey and freshly squeezed lemon juice to a cup of light boiled water. Drink this twice daily for 3 days.
Jaggery or “gur” is a winter delight that it loved by almost everyone. According to Ayurveda, jaggery has hot potency or taseer, which means, as it is metabolized or digested by the body, heat is produced. Jaggery counters the constriction of blood vessels due to cold weather, and helps dilate them to improve blood flow, hence heating the body.
It is also a good remedy for sore throat. Jaggery soothes the pain and irritation of the throat and dilates the respiratory tract.
Jaggery also helps people with arthritis. It has antioxidant properties, that provides relief from joint pain.
This sweet delicacy, stimulates secretion of digestive enzymes. Thus, we end our meal with gur. It also boosts metabolism and reduces water retention of the body.
Studies have confirmed that, one cup of brewed coffee provides upto 1.8 grams of fiber of the recommended intake of 28-30 grams.
Drinking 2 cups of coffee daily has been proved to lower the risk of heart diseases by 11%. It also helps in retaining information and increasing memory capacity. The risk of onset of type-II diabetes is reduced by at least 5-10% by drinking up to 6-8 cups of coffee per day.
Coffee is a natural anti-oxidant which detoxifies the body and reduces signs of ageing. Along with that, it is also, anti-inflammatory.
Coffee protects the liver against cirrhosis. According the article in Archives of Internal Medicine, coffee may provide protection against alcoholic liver disease. For every one cup of coffee per day, the research reports 20% reduction in alcoholic liver syndrome.
Sesame seeds contain phytosterol that reduces cholesterol absorption in the body. This, in turn, reduces the risk of heart diseases and ensures a healthy heart.
Sesame seeds is rich in iron that reduces the risk of anemia and maintains the required energy level of the body.
It also helps burn fat. Sesame seeds stimulate the secretion of certain liver enzymes that work to break down fatty acids.
Sardines have a high concentration of proteins and fats, which help keep your body warm.
Onions were used by the ancient Chinese as an energy tonic to increase body heat and counter chilly weather. Onions move the body heat to the skin and thus keeps the body warm. Follow this recipe to make yourself a nice hot bowl of French Onion soup.
Digestion of this root vegetable is slower and hence it generates more heat. Turnips will ensure that your required body heat is maintained throughout the day. Turnip contains a good amount of Vitamin B, which is essential for proper functioning of our organ systems and for keeping our hormone levels in control. Turnips also contain omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin K which are anti-inflammatory in nature. Vitamin C, found in turnips boosts our immune system and keeps the chronic illnesses at bay.
Bajra or Millet
Bajra is very well known to keep you energetic during the lazy winter season. Bajra reduces blood pressure, thus effectively lowering the risk of heart attack and atherosclerosis. It is a rich source of potassium that helps the blood vessels dilate and keep blood pressure in check. Bajra eliminates bad cholesterol or LDL cholesterol and further protects our heart from the onset of heart diseases. Being a fiber-rich cereal, bajra also helps in proper digestion and metabolism of food and keeps our kidneys and liver in optimum condition.
Mustard oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids that promotes heart health, helps in growth of hair, lightens skin tone etc. As our skin becomes dry, our nails become brittle and dry too. Applying mustard oil to nails, helps lubricate the nail bed and provides the required nourishment. Since mustard oil is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, foods cooked in mustard oil fight against infections in the digestive tract. Mustard stimulates the sweat glands, which in turn flushes out toxins from the body. It acts as a natural cleanser.
You heard me! I said, sweet potatoes. Two of the universal favorite things in the same line as the word healthy. I’m not joking. Sweet potatoes are under-appreciated source of beta-carotenes which meets our daily requirement of Vitamin A. The purplish sweet potatoes contain the anti-oxidant anthocyanin in high quantity. According to recent research, the sweet potato cyanidins and peonidins are might be able to reduce the health risk posed by oxygen radicals and heavy metals.
Anthocyanins are also anti-inflammatory in nature. In animal studies, it was reported that consuming sweet potatoes reduces inflammation of brain tissue and nerve tissues throughout the body.
Although sweet potatoes have a higher glycemic index than ordinary potatoes, the 6.6 grams of dietary fiber in a medium sweet potato can keep the blood sugar level in check and ensure proper digestion of food.
In developing researches, it is coming to the light that the resin glycosides found in sweet potatoes are anti-bacterial and anti-fungal in nature. The extent of their anti-microbial quality has not been established yet, but it is enough to give sweet potatoes its due importance.
Yes I know that you don’t need to know why dates are healthy because they’re quite palatable. But knowing the nutritional value of a tasty fruit does no harm.
If you’re feeling particularly lazy or sluggish, pop some dates in to your mouth. Dates, being high in glucose, sucrose and fructose, give you the immediate energy boost you need.
The potassium in dates is a key component to keep your nervous system in good shape. They make the brain more active and alert.
Eating dates can help you keep your heart healthy. It lowers the LDL cholesterol or “bad cholesterol” in the body which significantly reduces the risk of heart diseases and heart attacks. Eating overnight soaked and crushed dates twice per week can have a favorable effect on weak hearts.
Dates are also known to relieve intoxication. Coming home from a Christmas party and need to treat that nasty hangover? Just soak some rubbed dates overnight and consume them in the morning.
Over to you
Winter special foods include dates, cinnamon, coffee, sweet potatoes, jaggery, millet (or bajra), and mustard. These foods are loaded with properties that help us keep our body warmer in winter. Their anti-oxidative and anti-microbial properties make them key foods to be included in everyday diet this winter.
However intake of certain foods like jaggery and coffee should be carefully regulated. Jaggery may cause weight gain and too much coffee may cause insomnia.
Are you feeling particularly sluggish today? Thinking about skipping office?
Choose the better way and try one of these winter foods to get the much needed energy boost!
Eliana the chief editor at bodyandbeans is a professional yoga instructor and a fitness freak. She has done her master’s in history from Kolkata University. She is passionate about healthy eating and living practices.