We tend to eat differently when cold weather rolls in, as cravings for comfort foods cast a spell on us. This year give winter a warm welcome by stocking your pantry and fridge with delicious foods that will help you best weather the weather.
Foods for a Healthy Glow
Piercing-cold winds and temperatures, plus the dry nature of winter, are tough on your skin. You can protect it from the inside out with:
Nuts and seeds. They’re rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects cells from damage.
Citrus fruits, pomegranates, berries, spinach, winter squash, carrots, and dark green and orange vegetables. Their nutrients help create collagen, a structural substance in your skin that keeps it firm, flexible and supple.
Tofu, edamame and other whole soy foods. Their isoflavones may help slow or prevent the breakdown of collagen.
Extra virgin olive oil.
Some of the phyto-nutrients in olive oil fight inflammation and help repair skin damage while also moisturizing it. Don’t limit yourself to just cooking with it, though. Massage some into your skin. It can help from the outside in, too.
Walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, salmon, tuna, rainbow trout, halibut and sardines. They’re prized for their omega-3 fats, which fight inflammation within layers of your skin and may also help protect collagen from breaking down.
Foods for a Healthy Outlook
Approximately 15 percent of us experience some level of winter blues, including seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Foods can help lift that veil:
More omega-3 fatty acids. These fats (particularly found in fish) are part of cell membranes in the brain. An omega-3-rich diet may make it easier for serotonin, a chemical in your brain, to pass through cells. Serotonin is linked with mood, helping contribute to a sense of well-being, calm and happiness.
Foods rich in vitamin D, including the fish noted earlier, plus egg yolks, fortified milks, yogurts, juices and our Kowalski’s Portobella Mushrooms. Vitamin D is involved in the production of serotonin and dopamine, another brain chemical that regulates mood. Low levels of vitamin D are linked with SAD. You can learn your vitamin D level through a simple blood test.
Whole grains such as oats, barley, quinoa, brown rice, sorghum and farro. Whole grains are a great source of lasting energy, which can be lagging during winter. Whole-grain carbohydrates are also critical to the production of serotonin in the brain.
Foods for a Healthy Immune System
The majority of your immune system is housed in and around your digestive tract. As luck would have it, all the foods listed so far outfit you for a healthy immune system because they are good for your gut and contain nutrients to support immunity. But there are a few more essentials to put in your grocery cart.
Beans. Pick any and every one you want. Every one of them help feed the unique set of good bacteria you have in your intestines. More of the “good” nudges out the bad bacteria that will make you sick.
Fermented and cultured foods. Fermented teas, beverages and vegetables, such as raw sauerkraut, as well as certain yogurts, kefir, buttermilk and quark, contain probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that help support a healthy digestive tract.
Enjoy winter’s bounty of delicious, true “comfort foods.” Your kitchen awaits.