The kind of food you eat in winter will define how much your immune system is strengthened, and what nutrition you take in. If you understand nature, you will realize that eating the fruits and vegetables which are abundant in winter, boost your immune system. You should also eat foods that are warm, and warm your body. Hot tea, soups, and chocolate; stews, parathas, and all those delicious kinds of kababs are so tempting, especially in winter. The paradox of winter is that you need to eat more to heat your body adequately, but also need to keep an eye on the weighing scales.
Have you ever wondered why the root vegetables grow in winter? Carrots provide you with a boost of beta-carotene, the plant form of vitamin A, apart from more than 100 phytochemicals, dietary fiber ― so necessary for bowel health, and lowering cholesterol levels; vitamin C, and niacin. Turnips are a great source of vitamins C and A. Just one serving of red radishes provides you with all the vitamins and minerals essential to an athlete’s diet ― a third of your daily vitamin C requirements, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and even zinc. White radish is a good source of vitamin B6, folate, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, apart from dietary fiber, vitamin C, iron, potassium, and copper.
Fulfil your sugar needs from beetroots: Beetroots are packed with essential nutrients as they are a great source of iron, fiber, folate (vitamin B9), potassium, manganese, and vitamin C, while providing health benefits like improved blood flow, lower blood pressure, and increased exercise performance. Drinking beetroot juice continuously for several days has demonstrated increased stamina during a rigorous exercise schedule. Try swapping a sugary drink for a beetroot juice.
Some of the most nutritious vegetables grow abundantly in winter. Cabbages, broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, leeks, celery, French beans, cluster beans, fenugreek leaves, Kale, mustard leaves, capsicum, Brussel sprouts, mushrooms, pumpkin, and peas are not only very nutritious, but very tasty vegetables too. Put them into salads, soups, and mixed vegetable curries. Spinach, cauliflower, fenugreek leaves (methi ka saag), and cabbages can be stuffed into parathas to make food which is delicious, filling, warming, and nutritious. Grate raw papaya and add to varied curries, stuffing of kachori, vegetable pulao, or eat it in a chutney to get all its nutritive value. The ripe papaya is, of course, a wonder food in its own right as it has anti-inflammatory and digestive properties, is an antioxidant, and improves your eyesight while lowering your cholesterol.
Vitamin C is found plentifully in various kinds of citrus fruits like regular lemons, clementines, amla (Indian gooseberry), figs, hog plum (junglee aloo bukhara or amra), grapes — green, red, and purple, oranges, grapefruits, blood oranges, olives, kumquats, star fruit (kaamranga), kiwi fruit, and mausambi (sweet limes). Juice them, eat slices, add them to marmalades, jams, jellies, salads, and desserts, or have chutney, pickle, or sauce made from them. Make smoothies or shakes with them, or use to garnish food. They provide the ammunition you need to ward off some of the worst effects of winter by fighting infection, eliminating bacteria, detoxifying your body, and rehydrating your body. The concentration of vitamin C in limes, oranges, and grapefruit make you look younger by stimulating collagen production, thereby improving the elasticity of your skin.
There are many sources of getting dietary fiber of which leafy, green vegetables are prime. Add coriander leaves, cilantro, lettuce, spinach, parsley, or watercress to salads. Except spinach and watercress, you can use the other fresh greens to garnish food and drinks. Oats and dalia provide you with all the nutritive elements needed in winter. Since, they are usually eaten hot, whether with milk, or as a khichdi; they warm you, and give you all the fiber you need for gut health.
Don’t forget sesame seeds (til): Sesame seeds are a good source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, molybdenum, vitamin B1, selenium, and dietary fiber; apart from being an excellent source of copper, and a very good source of manganese. They enrich your system, warm you, and cure chronic respiratory disorders like pneumonia, bronchitis, and asthma.
Make a date with dates: Dates are carbohydrate rich, and contain a variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and fibers. They promote bone health, help control blood sugar levels, and ensure a healthier pregnancy and smoother delivery. The antioxidants in them enable you to strengthen brain health by delaying dementia, fight illness, and improve memory. Eat them raw, use in chutneys, serve as garnish, add them to salads, pancakes, fruit cakes, or boil them in milk.
Make sure you eat enough proteins in the form of lentils, almonds, soya, walnuts, legumes, paneer, milk, ragi, bajra, sesame seeds, fish, eggs, and meat. Almonds and walnuts are rich in protein, and fiber. Almonds contain vitamin E, magnesium, riboflavin, calcium, and potassium. Walnuts contain good fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), and are a valuable vegetarian source of the essential fatty acid omega-3. They also contain iron, selenium, calcium, zinc, vitamin E and some B vitamins. Both these nuts provide you with an active nervous system, improved sensitivity to insulin, a healthy heart and body.