A healthy selection of vegetables

Healthy winter foods

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Perhaps while you are waiting for Christmas festivities and food to start you may be able to fit in a few healthy dishes and return to them after the Christmas period. This time of the year is a good time to enjoy foods of fibre, colour and flavour, legumes, cranberries, citrus fruit and winter squash are just a few of the nutrition-packed must-haves for cold winter days.  Your personal trainer can advise you on a healthy nutritional diet that will suit your lifestyle.

Legumes are a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas and lentils and are very versatile and nutritious. They are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They also contain beneficial fats and soluble and insoluble fibre, they are a good source of protein and can be a healthy substitute for meat, which has more fat and cholesterol.

Cranberries are often referred to as a Super Food due to their high nutrient and antioxidant content. They are particularly rich in polyphenols, and have a lot of other helpful phytochemicals as well. These chemicals probably explain some of the studies showing the possible health benefits of cranberries that include:

Lowered risk of urinary tract infections, prevention of certain types of cancer, improved immune function, decreased blood pressure.

Prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections (they are antibacterial and also keep bacteria from “sticking” to the inside of the bladder and ureters)

Similar effects in the GI tract – help prevent bacteria from causing food-borne illness

Similar effects in the mouth – may help prevent tooth decay by discouraging bacteria and preventing them from “sticking”

Prevention of the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which may help prevent atherosclerosis and improves blood vessel function in people with atherosclerosis

Some studies show that cranberries can either raise HDL cholesterol or lower LDL cholesterol.

And half a cup of cranberries contains only 25 calories!

Citrus fruits include oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits, in addition to tangerines and pomelos. Not only are the citrus fruits in this diverse group delicious and refreshing, they earn their definition of an all-star food because they contain compounds called flavonoids, which may have anticancer properties. Citrus flavonoids are also antioxidants that can neutralise free radicals and may protect against heart disease. Studies show that citrus flavonoids may improve blood flow through coronary arteries, reduce the ability of arteries to form blood clots and prevent the oxidation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, which is an initial step in the formation of artery plaques.

Citrus fruits are also high in vitamin C, and are good sources of folate and thiamin. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and protects the body from damaging free radicals. It is also required for the synthesis of collagen, which helps wounds heal and helps hold blood vessels, tendons, ligaments and bone together. Folate is necessary for cell division and DNA synthesis. Thiamin is a B vitamin important in metabolism.

Oranges for instance are loaded with vitamin C, one orange offers up more than 100% of your daily requirement of power-packed vitamin C, as well as other disease fighting nutrients, they have folate, a B vitamin that may help to keep your heart healthy, as well as fibre and potassium.

Squash comes in a wide array of colours and sizes. Winter varieties of squash tend to be more nutrient-dense. They generally contain much more beta-carotene and more of several B vitamins than summer squash. Butternut squash’s beta-carotene content even rivals that of mangoes and cantaloupe. And that’s a boon in the fight against cancer, heart disease, and cataracts. Beta-carotene may also play a role in reducing lung inflammation and emphysema. Winter squash also contain beneficial amounts of vitamin C, potassium, and fibre.

One of the main reasons why red cabbage is such a popular vegetable addition to meals is the wealth of phytochemicals, antioxidants, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Some of these essential components include thiamin, riboflavin, folate, calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, and potassium, as well as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, dietary fibre, and the B vitamins. It’s antioxidants like anthocyanins and indoles are extremely valuable for human health.

The health benefits of red cabbage are said to include:

  • Prevention of premature ageing
  • Reducing the chances of cancer
  • Improving the health of the skin and eyes
  • Helps in weight loss
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Helps to build stronger bones
  • Detoxifies the body
  • Prevents diabetes
  • Improves heart health
  • Slows down the onset of Alzheimer’s
  • And treats ulcers

Kale is being called a nutritional powerhouse whilst being low in calorie, high in fibre and has zero fat and also filled with so many nutrients, vitamins, folate and magnesium as well as those listed below:

High in iron which is essential for good health, such as the formation of haemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function and more

High in Vitamin K which can help protect against various cancers. It is also necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions including normal bone health and blood clotting. Also increased levels of vitamin K can help people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease

Contains powerful antioxidants such as carotenoids and flavonoids help protect against various cancers

It is a great anti-inflammatory food containing omega-3 fatty acids, which help, fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders

It is high in Vitamin A which is great for your vision, your skin as well as helping to prevent lung and oral cavity cancers

It is high in Vitamin C which is helpful for your immune system, your metabolism and your hydration

It is high in calcium per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk, which aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Vitamin C is also helpful to maintain cartilage and joint flexibility

It is a great detox food as its fibre and sulphur are both great for detoxifying your body and keeping your liver healthy

Carrots are loaded with the antioxidant beta-carotene, a compound that converts to vitamin A in the body and Vitamin A is essential for a strong immune system and healthy eyes, skin, and mucus membranes. These orange veggies are also loaded with vitamin C and lutein, which are all antioxidants. Some studies have shown that eating carrots can reduce risk of cancer and even prevent cardiovascular disease.

Lastly after all this talk of veggies and fruit, don’t forget the turkey. This is a great winter food, it’s lean, a great source of protein, and from a calorie standpoint, it’s remarkably low. So turkey soup, a turkey sandwich on a hearty whole-grain bread, as well as turkey on its own, is always a treat on a cold winter day.

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