Are you constantly finding yourself reaching for your favorite comfort foods this winter? You’re not alone.
When the days are short and the temperature chilly, it’s easy to indulge in familiar favorites that aren’t necessarily so good for you. If you’re not eating as many fruits and veggies as you usually do, it can contribute to that season sluggishness.
While there aren’t as many in-season fruits and vegetables during the winter months, there still are some great produce options to choose from. Here’s a look at some of the vitamin-packed fruits and veggies you can easily add to your meals this winter.
1. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts (the mini cabbage-like veggies pictured above) are cruciferous vegetables that contain essential nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K. Their impressive antioxidant content makes them stand out!
One study found that eating these little guys can actually reduce oxidative damage to your DNA. They’re also high in fiber, which promotes digestive health and may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
This veggie hits its peak in September through February. They’ll tend to keep fresh for a few weeks in the fridge. Try roasting Brussels sprouts with a bit of olive oil until they’re brown and crispy.
2. Winter Squash
From butternut squash to acorn squash, many types of squash are in their prime throughout the winter months. They’re loaded with potassium, carotenoids, and vitamin A, making them a great addition to your winter meals.
According to Harvard Health, the high level of potassium in squash may help to counteract the unwanted effects sodium has on blood pressure.
You’ll find squash in local supermarkets from September through March. One thing to remember: they’ll keep ripening after being picked, so store them in a cool area to slow down this process.
Eat alone as a side dish or add to a bowl of healthy vegetable soup to enjoy the health benefits of squash.
Carrots are another nutrient-packed veggie that is in-season during the cold winter months. While they’re known for their high vitamin A content, carrots are packed with lutein, cyanidins, and vitamin C, too.
Researchers have linked carrots to the prevention of heart problems and even a reduction in cancer risk.
Like other types of root veggies, you can keep carrots in your refrigerator for several weeks. Whip up a delicious side dish by adding orange juice, a touch of maple syrup, or cinnamon to carrots to bring out their sweetness!
4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes can be found year-round, but they tend to be best during the fall and winter months. These versatile tubers are packed with fiber, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and manganese.
Studies show that vitamin C may decrease the duration and severity of common colds, which means you’ll definitely want to eat sweet potatoes and other foods containing vitamin C during the winter months.
You can prepare sweet potatoes in many delicious ways. Eat them like a baked potato, toss them in olive oil and roast in the oven, or add them to a hearty winter soup.
5. Citrus Fruits
In the warmer climates of California and Florida, citrus fruits peak between October and March, and they’re usually easy to find across the country. Not only are they packed with flavor and look pretty, but they’re also great for you, too!
Citrus fruits include grapefruit, limes, lemons, oranges, and many other varieties. While they’re well-known for their high vitamin C content, citrus fruits also contain B vitamins, magnesium, and potassium.
One study even found that nutrients in citrus fruits may boost heart health. Enjoy the health benefits of citrus by eating them alone, or you can add them to your favorite fruit salad. They’ll stay fresh in your fridge for up to a few weeks.
6. Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens like collards and kale tend to be at their best during the winter. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, they’re rich in potassium, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin C, and iron.
Another benefit…they are low in calories!
Research suggests that kale is best consumed raw if you want to enjoy the optimum amount of nutritional benefits they can provide. Use it to make your salads instead of lettuce during the winter months. Collards also can be added to salads for a great nutritional punch.
Little ruby-colored pomegranate seeds are packed with antioxidants. While it’s a bit tricky to extract those seeds, the health benefits make it worth your effort!
One study published in the Journal of Advanced Biomedical Research found that pomegranates offer a wide range of health benefits and may prevent a wide range of health problems. A few nutrients found in this fruit include vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, and folate.
Pomegranates are in-season between October and February, and they’ll keep in the fridge for a couple months or out on the counter for a week or two. Enjoy eating pomegranate seeds on their own or add to a winter kale salad for additional flavor and color.
You don’t have to stop eating healthy fruits and veggies during the winter months – you just need to know what produce is in-season. Instead of reaching for unhealthy comfort foods, try adding some of these tasty fruits and veggies to your meals this winter to boost energy and health as you wait for the warmer days of spring!