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How These 5 Winter Fruits and Vegetables Can Boost Your Health

Jan 26, 2017

We all know “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” While this statement may not be literal, it has gained popularity for a reason besides its catchy rhyme: fruits and vegetables are essential to our whole-body health. Plant-based foods contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other micronutrients that must be present in our diets in order for us to remain nourished. This applies year-round, though it can be trickier to find some of your favorite fresh fruits and veggies in the wintry off-season.

Fortunately, there’s no need to count down the days until the spring and summer bounty. Here are five of the tastiest winter varieties that will keep you feeling strong, healthy, and satisfied on the daily.

1. Citrus: Especially throughout cold and flu season, you need sufficient vitamin C to help your immune system stave off viruses. Luckily, C-packed citrus fruits are at their peak during the winter season. Unlike most of the items on this list, special preparation is often not necessary. You can simply peel and enjoy. Try snacking straight or juicing oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons, limes, and more (just be aware that the juicing process can remove most of the fiber you receive from eating them whole or sliced).

2. Brussels Sprouts: Brussels sprouts have too long been the object of disdain in the veggie world. Believe it or not, when prepared right, they aren’t miserable to eat. These miniature cruciferous vegetables also boast plenty of healthy antioxidants and key nutrients such as vitamin C and folate. They are also quite high in fiber, which supports digestive system function and helps us feel full longer.

If you or the kids can’t stand that sulfuric smell when boiled, consider cooking them without water. Slice each sprout in half, drizzle with olive oil, and roast them in the oven until nicely browned. Toss the finished sprouts with some salt and pepper and watch how quickly they’re gobbled up!

3. Fennel: One bulb of fennel is low in calories and relatively high in fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. It can also naturally reduce inflammation and the risk of blood clots, all while aiding your digestive process. Combine all that with powerful minerals such as copper and magnesium, and it's easy to see why this licorice-flavored vegetable is a great choice for any healthy diet. The most popular ways to serve it are cut raw into a salad or slowly cooked into a savory soup.

4. Collard Greens: Unlike many green crops, which are especially vulnerable to frost, collard greens come into their own during the cold months. Packed with iron, calcium, potassium, and vitamins A, C, E, and K, collard greens are more than a savory side to serve with soul food; they're a nutritional powerhouse. In addition to adding a pop of green color to any dish, from salads to sautés, they are low in calories and high in fiber, making them a great offset to heavy winter comfort foods.

5. Winter Squash: From long and slender striped Delicata squash to the aptly named acorn squash, there are many varieties of winter squash available. While they come in a variety of colors and shapes, winter squashes typically share the rich, golden-orange flesh of their cousin, the pumpkin. Like pumpkins, winter squashes are high in potassium, vitamin A, and carotenoids (which cause the orange hue).

The simplest and most nutrient-rich means of cooking squash is to roast it. Boiling it could result in boiling out some key nutrients. In order to roast your squash, you’ll need to cut it open, and this may take some effort depending on the variety. One split, drizzle some olive oil over the flesh and place cut side down on a baking tray in an oven set to 350 degrees F. Your squash is ready to eat when the flesh is tender (a fork should easily penetrate the surface). Begin checking for doneness at fifteen minutes, then continue checking every ten minutes after.



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