Foods to Add to Your Diet as the Temperatures Drop
By changing our diets slightly as winter approaches, we can actually counter the harsh impacts that colder temperatures can have on our bodies, including decreasing the likelihood of getting ill, protecting our skin from the cold, and decreasing the severity of seasonal affective disorder. Below are a few foods you may want to start consuming more often in late fall to help your body battle the colder days ahead.
Red bell peppers contain more than three times the amount of vitamin C than oranges. Vitamin C supports your immune system, which is even more important in the winter, and has also been shown to reduce fatigue. Red peppers also boast phytochemicals and beta-carotene, providing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Try adding red peppers to salads, pastas, and pizza, or as a snack to up your intake.
Smoked salmon can help prevent or limit the negative effects that cold weather can have on our skin. When consumed, the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids found in salmon get incorporated into cell membranes in the top layer of our skin, which helps to maintain our skin's barrier function and prevent moisture loss common during the colder, dryer months. Consider enjoying salmon more often during the winter in the form of burgers, sandwiches, fillets, or in a salad.
This is the perfect time of year to add more cinnamon to your diet, especially if you love fall flavours and holiday baking. Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants (more than almost all other spices and herbs!), which protect your body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. It has also been shown to boost your metabolism, stabilize blood sugar levels, and aid digestion by helping to breakdown your food more efficiently. Try adding cinnamon to your coffee, baked goods, oatmeal, or toast.
Like cinnamon, blueberries are packed with antioxidants, and actually contain the most antioxidants of any fresh fruit. This is due to their high levels of anthocyanins, plant pigments with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which help to reduce the risk of illness and chronic diseases. Blueberries are also high in vitamin C, which contributes to supporting your immune system. Enjoy blueberries in yogurt bowls, smoothies, salads, or on cereals, oatmeal or toast.
If you find that your mood drops a little during the winter months, consider supporting your serotonin levels (the "feel good" hormone). Our bodies need the amino acid tryptophan to make serotonin. Tryptophan occurs naturally in bananas (as well as almonds and peanuts, fish, dairy
products, and dried dates), which when consumed will eventually get converted into serotonin in your brain, and in turn may help to keep your mood upbeat. So, the next time you're feeling your mood dip , add a banana to your breakfast, blend it into a smoothie, or roll it up with some peanut butter in a wrap to help up those serotonin levels.
Winter squash comes in many varieties, including butternut, acorn, and spaghetti, and they are all rich sources of vitamins A and C, making them a great choice during the winter when our immune systems need the extra support from these antioxidants. Squash is also a good source of vitamins B6 and K, folate, and potassium. Try making a squash soup, using it as pasta alternative, or even adding it to your smoothie.
White potatoes are a whole food containing numerous nutrients, including immune-supporting vitamins B6 and C, providing almost 30% of your recommended daily intake of both of these nutrients per medium-sized potato. As well, the purple variety have the added benefit of containing the antioxidant anthocyanin, which has been linked to reducing heart disease and cancer risk, as well as inflammation. Sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of vitamin A, another nutrient that plays an important role in supporting your immune system. Add potatoes to soups, make your own french fries, or bake them as a healthy side.