Winter Foods That Will Improve your Mood & Health

By Global Master Chef Karl Guggenmos, Senior Culinary Advisor, HMS

It’s the middle of the winter now. The days are short, with limited sunshine and daylight hours. The nights are long. 

During the winter in the Northeast and Northwest of the U.S., we enjoy bundling up by the fireplace with a nice cup of hot chocolate or coffee.  This is also the perfect time of year for binge watching our favorite TV shows from our special spot on the couch, where we would be very happy to remain indefinitely, especially during snowstorms.

Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. Naturally, some of us are inspired to go outside to take brisk walks in the snow, perhaps go skiing or indulge in some other winter activity like sledding or ice skating. At best, though, these activities last for just a few hours.

Let’s be honest, we spend much more time indoors and even if we were outside for a while, we don’t get as much sun as in the Spring, Summer or Fall.  

So what does all this have to do with what we eat during the winter months? Well quite a bit – in terms of both mind and body.

First of all, we can fall prey to being SAD (seasonal affective disorder), meaning we often feel very tired and more lethargic as well as “down” in our mood.

Also, we suffer from body aches and headaches more often, and are more susceptible to colds and the flu.

The simple truth is that we need to counter the effects on our immune system and the natural depletion of certain nutrients such as Vitamins A, C, D, B and E as well as fiber during the winter by adjusting our nutritional lifestyle (I don’t like the term diet anymore) so we can help our bodies to minimize the negative effects of winter. 

Here are some simple ideas to make our winter month a healthier experience. Eat foods that contain high amounts of: Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Omega 3 fatty acids, Folic acids, Fiber

The foods that will provide these nutrients are:

  • Sweet Potatoes 
    • Rich in fiber, iron and vitamin B and C.
    • Contain an antioxidant called beta carotene that converts to Vitamin A when consumed.
  • Fruits, especially citrus fruits which are rich in Vitamin C.
  • Mushrooms are rich in Vitamin C/D, antioxidants, selenium and choline.
  • Fish, which is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, especially salmon.
  • Oats, which are rich in fiber, Vitamins B1 and B5 as well as zinc (helps the immune system).
  • Green vegetables, especially cabbage, including Brussels sprouts as well as red and white
  • Red Bell Peppers, which contain double the amount of Vitamin C.
  • Spices and seasonings, such as cinnamon, turmeric, garlic and fennel, will improve your immune system and fight inflammation.
  • Nuts, like walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and Brazil nuts are loaded with antioxidants, reduce inflammation and are a good source of fiber, Vitamin E, magnesium, copper, manganese, selenium and phosphorus.

 

Enjoy the winter months and stay healthy!

 

 

 

 

 

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