Many consider winter as an invitation for sudden illness, depression, dry skin and lethargy. But it doesn’t have to be. Instead, this winter, let “There’s a food for that!” be your mantra. Vitamin-rich foods can provide the energy and nutrition needed to survive the cold season. By simply changing your diet, you can beat the winter blues and replenish your body of all the nutrients it’s been thirsting for.
Feeling lethargic or depressed this winter? Increase your fish intake to combat winter blues. Fish is rich in vitamin D, which is used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and has been linked to increased immunity. Deficiencies in vitamin D have been linked to impaired growth and increased risk of heart disease. Raw and fatty fish typically have the largest amounts of the bone-strengthening vitamin; so next time you’re feeling down, chow on some sushi or canned salmon which has 127% DV of vitamin D.
For a snack, try topping raw salmon and cream cheese on a cracker, and then garnish with lemon twists or scallions (before consuming raw fish, be sure to check out these seafood guidelines provided by the FDA).
Vitamin C-Rich Foods
Daily dosages of vitamin C can prevent winter-prone illnesses, like colds and even flu viruses. Vitamin C boosts immunity, improves cardiovascular health, moisturizes skin and can even prevent wrinkling–hence its popularity in skin products. Oranges top most grocery lists this time of the year, but there are a number of foods that supplement far more vitamin C than oranges. Green chiles, for instance, provide more of the vitamin than any other food with 242.5mg (404% DV) of vitamin C. That’s nearly a 250% increase from an orange’s supplement of 98mg (138% DV).
Other vitamin C-rich foods include guavas with 228mg (381% DV), thyme with 160mg (267% DV) per serving, green vegetables such as raw kale with 120mg (200% DV) and broccoli with 89mg (149% DV), and kiwis that provide 93mg (155% DV) per serving.
Vitamin B-Rich Foods
If you’ve been feeling sluggish and slightly confused lately, you may be missing an essential vitamin in your diet found naturally in fish, meat, eggs, and dairy products: vitamin B. Vegetarians and vegans can rely on bran, such as brown rice (240% DV per 100g serving), pistachios (85% DV per 100g), sunflower seeds (95% DV per cup), and hazelnuts (31% DV per 100g) for the vitamin. Vitamin B is water-soluble, meaning it isn’t stored in your body and needs to be consumed daily. The National Institute of Health recommends a daily dosage of 1.3mg for adults 19-15 and 1.5-1.7mg for adults 51+. Vitamin B can alleviate anxiety and depression, relieve PMS symptoms, decrease the chance of heart disease, and lower stress.
For energy boosts throughout the day, snack on trail mix that includes nuts such as peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, and hazelnuts.
Although it’s not necessarily a food, green tea is still hot after 5,000 years for it’s amazing health benefits. Green tea is filled with antioxidants that fight off infections and strengthen the immune system. One antioxidant found in the tea is 100 times more effective than vitamin C and has been linked to preventing cancer. Another antioxidant acts as an anti-aging agent by fighting free-radicals. Green tea is popularly used for weight loss during the post-holiday season. Drinking the tea actually burns calories by increasing the metabolism while also suppressing hunger. Try replacing a cup of coffee with this caffeinated tea to reduce stress and increase overall health.
Green tea is also a subtle tea, which makes it a great drink to play barista with. Try adding natural sweeteners, such as honey or agave nectar. Add a lemon or mint sprig for a kick. Infuse the tea with berries for flavor. Drink it hot or cold. For breakfast or dinner. And most of all, enjoy!
Didn’t see this one coming, did you? Lucky for you, dark chocolate is actually quite nutritious. It contains fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese. Cacao is the source of nutrients found in dark chocolate, so make it a point to purchase chocolate bars with high percentages, if not 100%, of cacao for maximum benefits.
Add decadent dark chocolate to your diet as a well-deserved treat to benefit from its antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Dark (but not milk) chocolate has potent antioxidants that increase in the blood and eradicate free-radicals. Recent studies reveal that milk can hinder the benefits of dark chocolate’s antioxidants. Also found in the winter wonder-foods are iron, calcium, and vitamins A, B1, C, D, and E, which are known for repairing dry skin. These nutrients make dark chocolate ideal to be used in body scrubs. Dark chocolate also improves blood flow, controls blood sugar, and improves cognitive function. Next time you’re craving this decadent delight, remember the beauty of cacao’s guilt-free health benefits.