Essential winter foods for staying healthy

Are there better foods to eat in the winter? Warm, spicy foods and soups are things I add to my diet in the winter. I know there is this need to hibernate in the cold months and people tend to think they gain weight at this time of year. That may be true but there are things you can do to stay lean yet satisfy your winter cravings and hunger too.

Some things you might not know or consider and may even sound surprising is people are frequently more dehydrated in the winter months than in the summer. How can that be when we tend to sweat more in the summer? Well, it’s not because we drink more because we are thirsty in the hot months that keeps our cells more hydrated. It has more to do with the sun than our activity. The sun is a resource of vital nutrients. In NYC, it starts getting dark at 4 p.m. and it’s not really sunny until 8 a.m. and that’s only when it’s not cloudy, dreary, rainy, or snowing. Basically on the east coast we are starved for sunshine from December until March.orangesSo in the wintertime, try adding some of these ideas to your daily life to get more super nutrients into your diet:

Green Juice and Veggie: I’m lucky that where I live as there is a Juice Press in my apartment building. But getting a cold-press juice three times a week adds some missing nutrients into your diet. I also am a fan of carrots, kale, sweet potatoes, and basically any green leafy veggie. They have folate, magnesium, and vitamin A, C, and K. One thing I add in winter are radishes to my salads. They have antimicrobials, which keep cold, cough, and lung issues at bay. Onions too are antiviral and antibacterial so I love sautéing them with my spinach.

Spice up your food with ginger and cayenne and even add it to your tea and soups.  I’m a huge fan of herbal teas and soup in winter. Making a pot of tea to sip all day is a great way to keep your fluid intake up. Making a pot of soup keeps for days and having it for lunch, then in the evening adding it to greens and some chicken makes a super stew. Both reduce inflammation and are even known to reduce the tendency to have dry throat cough and upper respiratory tract infections. Garlic is another great addition, as it’s also known to be a cold reducer with its antibacterial and antiviral properties. Although you will have bad breath, eating raw garlic is said to also fight the flu. I’m a fan of clove, nutmeg, turmeric (but be mindful, it’s super potent), and fresh coriander if you can find it aid in immune response. I love making soups in the winter and I add these spices to a good pot I’ll eat all week. I even freeze some if I can’t eat it all or get bored eating the same thing all week.

Vitamin C is a key phytonutrient to seek out in the winter months. Citrus fruits also have soluble fiber and potassium along with a flavonoid called hesperidin. This helps boost immune response, lower bad cholesterol and even boost the good cholesterol in your body.  My other favorites in the winter months are apples and pomegranates, which are also packed with antioxidants that improve blood flow – great for the cold months.

Keeping up with good proteins from raw nuts also adds vitamin E, which is a key element in brain function. Seeing there’s no sunshine to boost your brain, go with almonds, cashews, and pistachios. I’m also a super fan of avocado, pumpkin, and even chia seeds. These have everything from omega 3 and zinc in them so it helps with your hair and skin, which can get dry and unruly this time of year.

Probiotics like kefir, eggs, fish oil, and simply taking a supplement boost your serotonin levels, which plummet in the winter months.  Along with protein, they also have essential amino acids that calm nerves, while vitamin B-12 and D can boost your energy and keep you peppy all day.

Finally, although not a food at all, sleep is essential! Getting a sound night sleep is so key to nutrient absorption, transportation, and excretion of waste. So make sure you snuggle in early so you have a great day.

Stay warm, stay healthy, and eat nutritious foods daily in the winter months so you are ready to hit the pavement running once it thaws in April!

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