Fall and winter are the most important time of year when it comes to the best superfoods. From nuts and leafy greens to seeds and plump pumpkins, a variety of nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables are in season during fall and winter. Here are 23 Amazing Fall & Winter Superfoods.
By bumping up your consumption of fresh produce, you’ll be in peak nutritional shape when the cold and flu season arrives.
1. Sweet Potato
A humble root – the sweet potato is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. The sweet potato is a rich source of beta-carotene which converts to vitamin A within the body.
October through December is the peak season for sweet potatoes. A seasonal favourite, sweet potatoes recipes are found on dinner tables around the world. They contain huge amounts of vitamin A. One serving of sweet potatoes can give you more than seven times your daily vitamin A needs.
This versatile vegetable can inspire many dishes. Try combining roasted sweet potatoes with peppers as a part of a salad. Add goat cheese to turn them into a beautiful starter. Roast sweet potatoes are delicious lightly buttered or absolutely plain.
Exceptionally high in antioxidants, this superfoods has been the subject of a huge amount of scientific research. Put simply, when it comes to vegetables, the brighter the colour, the better they are for you.
Broccoli is many dieticians’ favourite vegetable. It contains high levels of key antioxidants as well as a number of vitamins and minerals.
Add it to as many vegetable dishes and stir fries as you can. It can be eaten raw, steamed, in a stir fry or even roasted. Steamed, it can be served alone as a side dish with Soy or Tamarind sauce. Added to any meal it has a wonderful taste and is nutritionally beneficial to everyone.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds contain healthy oils, magnesium, and other nutrients that enhance the health of the heart, bones, and general body function.
The fatty acids in pumpkin seeds contain a range of beneficial nutrients, such as sterols, squalene, and tocopherols.
They are a great source of magnesium, important for bone formation and increasing bone density. This has been shown to decrease the risk of osteoporosis, and help protect against type 2 diabetes.
A 100-gram (g) serving of pumpkin seeds can contain over 90 mg of magnesium and every 100 g of pumpkins seeds and 8mg of zinc. They contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fibre. This combination has benefits for both the heart and liver.
The fibre in pumpkin seeds helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood and decrease the risk of heart disease. 100 g of pumpkin seed kernel contains 265 mg of total sterols, which are known to help reduce levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. High in Vitamin E they help strengthen the immune system and maintain a healthy cardio vascular system.
The latest trendy member of the cabbage family comes in many varieties and packs a punch of health benefits. Its one of the best superfoods!
Packed with beta-carotene, folate, vitamin C and high in fibre. It is one of the richest vegetable sources of calcium, magnesium and potassium.
One cup of chopped kale contains more than your entire recommended daily amount of vitamins A and C and K, 10% of your daily calcium and 24% of your daily folate needs. Vitamin K can often be overlooked; this small serving provides 500% of your recommended daily amount.
Try it steamed and sautéed with a nice dipping sauce or add it to soups and salads for a boost in nutrition.
The pomegranate is underused in Western cuisine. The fruit’s seeds can add a sweet and crunchy bite to both salads and soups.
This superfoods a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, Pomegranate juice has been claimed by many to reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction, although few of these claims have been substantiated in scientific studies.
Pomegranate juice contains higher levels of antioxidants than most other fruit juices and 3 times more than red wine and green tea. These antioxidants can help reduce free radicals, protect cells from damage, and reduce inflammation.
This tart fruit might make your mouth pucker, but cranberries are high in vitamin C and polyphenols. These are an antioxidant that can help to reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing platelet build-up and reducing blood pressure. This tart fruit also has some unique anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits.
Cranberry juice has long been used as a natural remedy for urinary tract infections due to the high levels of certain phytonutrients. Further studies suggest that cranberries may fight cellular inflammation, which is implicated in cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Use fresh cranberries to give a bittersweet kick to dishes, or make homemade cranberry sauce for a healthier classic holiday dish. Cranberry sauce is often high in sugar. Try making your own at home. It will help you to control the amount of sugar in your diet.
As far as vegetables go, there’s nothing more on trend right now than Brussels sprouts. This traditional winter vegetable is in peak season from September to March, however Brussels sprouts are said to be sweeter after the first frost.
Besides being absolutely delectable when roasted, Brussels sprouts have the nutritional profile of a tasty multi-vitamin, providing more than 100 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamins C.
Winter is pear season, so take advantage of this superfoods. High in dietary fibre, they can help to alleviate constipation and many other issues within the digestive system.
Studies have shown that pears may also be able to regulate alcohol metabolism and protect against ulcers. A mild, sweet fruit with a fibrous centre. They are rich in important antioxidants, flavonoids and copper, as well as dietary fibre; they pack all of these nutrients into a fat and cholesterol free package.
This classic nut is mostly served up at Christmas time and works well when used as the base of a nut roast, to make stuffing or fried with Brussels sprouts and pancetta.
Chestnuts have the lowest fat content of all nut varieties and contain a good source of magnesium, which is often referred to as nature’s relaxant. It is involved in muscle contraction and low levels of magnesium have been associated with increased anxiety.
These amazing winter superfoods are rich in fibre, to help maintain healthy digestion, reduce cholesterol levels and minimise the risk of heart disease.
Nuts are a popular snack over Christmas and seem even more enjoyable when you buy them in their shell.
Walnuts are rich in the healthy monounsaturated fats that help to reduce levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.
They are also rich in essential omega 3 fatty acids, useful for people who don’t eat oily fish. It is difficult to get enough omega 3 without including oily fish in your diet. So Walnuts, along with pumpkin seeds, can be vital when creating a balanced vegetarian or vegan diet.
Another brightly coloured vegetable, carrots are full of beta-carotene – the source of vitamin A. Just one carrot a day provides a huge nutritional boost and is a great snack food choice.
Although over cooking vegetables is a sure way to kill the vitamins, carrots are one of the few vegetables that will release more nutritionally if they are cooked than when raw. This is because some of the Nutrients can’t be broken down during digestion. Cooking the carrots for a short time makes them easier to digest, so all the nutrients can be released.
Try lightly steaming them for great results. The beauty of raw carrot is in its convenience. Crunching into a crisp fresh raw carrot is a great way to defeat the cravings we all have for less “good” food.
With any grains, the less they are processed the better they will be nutritionally. This is easily seen with the many brands and types of oats available for sale.
Milled oat grains will release their energy very quickly, where as rolled oats will release their energy slower, providing a much better start to the day.
A single serving of oats provides a substantial amount of soluble fibre. This is the type of fibre known to help reduce blood cholesterol levels. Oats also have one of the lowest GI’s of all grains.
Look for the coarsest oats you can find, rather than the ‘quick cook’ varieties. They can be cooked with milk, or as the Scottish traditionally do with water and a little salt. Fruit, nuts, honey and cinnamon all make great additions rather than adding sugar.
13. Red Peppers
Red peppers are a rich source of carotenoids. This group of antioxidants are known to play a significant role in helping to regulate a number of pathways in the body prone to inflammation. Simply put, people who eat more carotenoids during their lives have lower risks of mortality from many diseases including heart disease, cancer and strokes.
Roasted red peppers, stuffed with a chestnut stuffing can be amazing, but simply chop them into a stir fry or slice them into sticks to enjoy raw with hummus or cucumber dip.
14. Lemons & Limes
Lemons really are a great choice of a multipurpose superfoods: They freshen up breath, gloss fingernails, heal dry skin, and even revitalize hair. A warm glass of lemon water in the morning has also been associated with a number of benefits including improved digestion and a boosted metabolism.
Citrus fruits are a rich source of vitamin C. The role of citrus fruit in weight control due to their high content of citric acid is causing great interest. It is thought to potentially bind fat stores. While there is little evidence for this, adding highly acidic foods like lemon juice to cooking does lower the glycaemic index of the food.
Low in energy but packed full of nutrition, both lemons and limes can be used as tasty additions to many recipes. Perfect for marinades or sauces, it can simply be squeezed into some water for a great cleansing start to the day.
15. Dried Fruits
Dried fruit often gets a bad press for its sugar content, but they are natural sugars. A single 40g serving is still classed as one of your five-a-day.
Traditionally used during Christmas to make Sweet pies, puddings and stuffing, they also work really well in salads.
Dried fruits such as apricots are a good source of vitamin A, which helps to maintain healthy skin and immunity. They are also a good source of iron, which is lacking in a significant number of peoples diets and low intakes can lead to tiredness and fatigue.
This spice drums up memories of winter and mulled wine for me, but its also one of the best superfoods.
Used with cloves, nutmeg and other warming spices, ground cinnamon is a good source of calcium and iron. Iron is vital for the immune system and to maintain healthy red blood cells. Research also suggests this spice may also help to lower blood sugar levels.
Cauliflower has become a popular replacement ingredient in many recipes. White cauliflower is the most popular, but there are several other varieties such as orange, green, and purple, each containing a slightly different nutrient makeup.
White cauliflower contains a mass of vitamins and minerals including folate and vitamins B6, C, and K. Research is also being done on a phytochemical compound it contains known as isothiocyanate. This has been linked to the destruction of certain cancer cells.
To take full advantage of cauliflower’s health giving properties, avoid boiling it — which kills a large proportion of the phytochemicals. Steaming or roasting it is much better. Try this delicious curried cauliflower recipe.
Cabbage is one of the best affordable and versatile winter superfoods. Rich in vitamins C, K and folate, it has been found to reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of certain cancers.
It will provide many of the benefits of a Brussel Sprout, Kale and Broccoli. All are members of the same vegetable family. Unlike many other fresh vegetables, cabbage can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks if needed.
When consumed raw, fennel has an intense liquorice flavor. When roasted, it takes on a caramel-like sweetness.
One fennel bulb contains only 73 calories and almost no fat, but it’s loaded with fibre, vitamin C, potassium, and a host of other minerals. Initial Scientific studies concluded that an extract of fennel seeds could have anti-tumour properties and protect cells from oxidative stress. However much more research is required to unlock the magic of this wonderful plant.
Another underused superfoods – the leek can be a great addition to many dishes. From soups and casseroles to stir fry’s and salad, they really are a winter superfood worth trying.
Low in calories they are a great source of vitamins A and C.
From a taste perspective, leeks can diffuse a subtle garlic flavor to soups, stews, and risottos. Sliced thinly they can be added to a salad or caramelised in a frying pan instead of onions to be used in any recipe. Leek and potato soup is a particular favourite of mine, I am sure you will find your own favourite Leek dish.
Another traditional Christmas fruit, oranges are one of the most nutritious fruits you can eat.
They can provide a day’s worth of vitamin C, as well as dietary fibre. They contain more than 170 different phytochemicals, some of which have been scientifically proven to reduce inflammation in blood vessels, and reduce blood pressure.
Parsnips are wonderful, with a sweeter, earthier taste than most root vegetables. Like carrots, they can be eaten raw, but with high starch content, they work in many dishes. Perfect for a purée or rich soup, they also work incredibly well when roasted or deep fried.The starch will begin to caramelise creating a crunchy texture and sweet taste that is hard to resist.
A cup of parsnips provides 29 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, 17 percent of the RDI of folate, and 24 percent of the RDI of manganese.
Despite their small size, these root vegetables are powerful superfoods.
Low in calories, radishes contain compounds call isothiocyanate. These complex compounds are under intense scrutiny by the scientific community as initial studies have shown them to reduce cancer cells.
Traditionally used in salad they can be eaten raw but I also find them an interesting ingredient in stir fry’s and soups.
So from sweet to savoury, you have a wonderfully rich array of ingredients. All have their uses and benefits.
These 23 Fall and Winter Superfoods will boost your spirits during the dark cold months. By including them in your diet you are giving yourself the best chance to fight off any illness. A healthy balanced diet is always important, but during the fall and winter any disease can be harder to shake off.
Take advantage of the benefits these simple ingredients can give, as you explore the wonderful array of taste and texture they bring to your table.