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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Try Whole Foods for Winter Health

Try Whole Foods for Winter Health

Winter is a season many people look forward to each year as a time to slow down, to make memories with family, and to reflect and plan for the busier months ahead. Many others, however, dread winter, and with good reason. This season of inward reflection and family time can also mean months of sickness, lethargy, and depression. It is a cold and bitter time, and our bodies know that if we spend too much time away from the warmth of home, we could end up in big trouble! But winter doesn’t have to be something to dread. With proper nourishment and regular exercise, winter can be a season to savor. And what better way to savor the season than with delicious, winter friendly, nutrient rich foods.

Whole vegetables like pumpkin, squash, rutabaga, turnip, carrot, beet and sweet potato make excellent winter dishes. And it’s no surprise that these foods, which are most naturally available in winter, are also some of the best foods for us during that time. All of these vegetables are high in Vitamin A (think “orange” for beta-carotene) and Vitamin C, both of which help us to mediate the symptoms of illness and strengthen our immune systems.

If you are more of a fruit person than a vegetable person, citrus is a good option. Winter the best and most affordable time to buy fruits like oranges and grapefruit, which are in season in southern locations, like Florida, during the winter. A fresh orange is a great way to take care of your Vitamin C needs. Fresh or dried cranberries, and dried cherries are also good winter fruit and are chock full of cancer fighting anti-oxidants.

To get a healthy dose of Vitamin B, an essential vitamin needed to maintain healthy skin and muscle tone, promote cell growth and enhance immune and nervous systems, make sure to include warming grains such as brown rice, oats, and quinoa in your diet. Although pasta is a satisfying treat in the colder months, even whole grain pasta pales in comparison to these other nutrient dense grains. Including a moderate amount of red meat, eggs, poultry, fish, or dairy products in your diet is also important for getting the proper amount of B-12, also know as cobalamin. This nutient is important for brain-functioning and helping to calm your nervous system, making it a great Vitamin to stave off the winter blues. If you eat a vegan diet, make sure to eat plenty of B-12 fortified foods, and take a supplement if necessary.

And don’t forget to throw in a side of green with your orange and browns. Hardy greens like kale, collards, and cabbage are loaded with vitamins and important minerals like calcium and even iron. These greens can be chopped finely and tossed into stews, soups, or even omelets. If purchasing these fresh feels a bit pricey, frozen greens like collards and spinach are a close second.

Of course a good whole food diet is only part of the equation for having a healthy, enjoyable winter. Plenty of sleep (6-8 hours a night), plenty of water, and plenty of regular exercise are also necessary. Whenever possible, try to exercise outside. A brisk walk or other outdoor activity, such as ice-skating, will help to keep you fit and happier, due to released endorphins, and will help expose you to the sunlight needed for Vitamin D production.

2 comments

1 rhiannonm { 10.16.13 at 4:31 pm }

Sometimes for a quick ‘pick me up’ in the winter, I make a fresh fruit salad with the healthiest fruits I can find in season. I love anything citrus. I’ll combine ruby red grapefruit, oranges and tangerines, or clementines with fresh pineapple and banana. Sprinkle with shredded toasted coconut, and top off with pecan pieces or pomegranate seeds for lively color. Tastes great, and is filled with good-for-you vitamins and fiber. Banana and coconut help balanced out the acidity of some of the fruits.

2 Jayla SunBird { 02.24.12 at 9:56 am }

‘A fresh orange is a great way to take care of your Vitamin C needs. Fresh or dried cranberries, and dried cherries are also good winter fruit and are chock full of cancer fighting anti-oxidants.’ Thanks, Sherie; a small bit of info like this is worth time with a Medical Manua, in less time. And, people needs to know as much about how to eat as to what they’re eating during these questionable times of new ailments ans intensified stresses..

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