9 Winter Fruits and Vegetables to Boost Your Immune System
It's beginning to look a lot like... winter. The temps are finally down, the cozy blankets are out, and the smell of hot cocoa is everywhere. Even though winter is the season to be jolly, it's also the season to get the sniffles. Luckily, loading up on cold-fighting nutrients is a surefire way to kick any bug.
Before all of you modern-age nose-blowers reach for the medicine cabinet, remember there's a world of winter fruits and vegetables out there waiting to ward off those pesky colds with just a few bites. If you are ready to swap all those pills with actual foods, add these nine winter fruits and vegetables to your MEP shopping cart and enjoy the season the way you should - sniffle-free.
Not to sound biased, but citrus fruits are winter's superstars. From orange's orange color to lemon's bright yellow, these juicy fruits can turn any gloomy day into a good one. Of course, their color pop is only the beginning.
Oranges, grapefruits, mandarins, limes, and the rest of the clan are rich in antioxidants(1)- vitamin C, in particular- preventing you from getting sick during the cold days of winter. Studies also show that vitamin C(2) can reduce the duration and severity of cold symptoms in both adults and children. Pouring a glass of real OJ in the morning could be the thing to keep you healthy throughout winter.
While they started popping up on our Insta feeds only recently, pomegranates are one of the world's oldest fruits. This ruby-red fruit has been around since the Greco-Roman times (or perhaps way before that), but their seasonal nature allows us to feast on them mainly during the winter.
From a nutritional point of view, they're packed with antioxidants – buh-bye, common cold! Their benefits don't end there. Pomegranates are rich in dietary fiber,(3) which boosts our immunity through specific metabolic pathways. The bottom line? Add these sweet and tart pods to your winter salad (or weekly meal plan), and you won't regret it!
Even though its popping color and exotic looks conjure up images of tropical smoothies and sandy beaches, kiwi is winter's "child." The emerald green fruit is in season from October through May(4), but if you want our opinion, kiwi crops harvested in December and January taste the best. Much like other citrus fruits, kiwis are rich in vitamin C, boosting your immunity and sparing you from getting sick.
A close cousin to veggies like cauliflower, the almighty broccoli, and collard greens, cabbage loves cold weather. The winter vegetable is in season during the colder months of the year and hides a wealth of disease-fighting nutrients, like vitamin C(5), antioxidants,(6) and fiber. The best part about cabbage is that you can eat it raw as part of a nutritious salad or cooked in the form of hearty stews and crunchy rolls. We recommend you opt for the dehydrated version. It’s easy to add to anything: from stews to salads to casseroles.
Chances are you've heard all about brussel sprouts and how “yucky” they taste. Over the years, the bite-sized green orbs have endured their fair share of bad press, but it's high time we change all that. Between their high content in antioxidants(7) and their ability to pair with any vegetable and cheese type out there, brussel sprouts are one of the healthiest and most versatile foods to hit your plate during the colder months. Ready to say no to those sniffles in the tastiest way possible?
Most of your immunity defenses(8) lie along the mucosal lining of your gut. That means that eating the right foods helps you boost your immunity and bring down those flu germs without you even noticing. Here’s where leeks step in.
The winter vegetable is packed with a variety of gut-friendly nutrients, including inulin,(9) a potent prebiotic. Once inside your digestive system, the fiber improves your gut health and reduces your risk of coming down with the flu.
Make sure you keep a batch of dehydrated leeks around and add them to your dishes every chance you get. Your morning frittatas and your supper soup got the healthy makeover they needed.
Often dubbed as spinach's better half, kale is a healthy eater's dream come true. The cruciferous vegetable is home to nutrients, some of which are known to prevent the common cold (antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber). Unlike other leafy greens, kale(10) is high in carotenoids,(11) known for their antioxidant potential.
If you're looking for an easy way to get through flu season without getting sick, this winter vegetable is all you need. PS: At 33 calories per cup,(12) kale is the perfect low-calorie substitute for anyone looking to lose a few pounds before (or after) the holidays.
If you think onions are a year-round veggie, we've got some surprising news for you. Onions come in many variations, but experts suggest the best of them are grown during winter. The pungent bulb is high in vitamin C and anthocyanin(13) - potent antioxidants that help you keep the flu at bay.
Friendly tip: If you think chopping up an onion isn't worth it (after all, the bulb is known for turning on the waterworks), stock your pantry with this dehydrated version, which is just as nutritious and tasty as the real deal. It’s already chopped. No prep work. Who's laughing crying now?
This winter vegetable is a nutritional powerhouse. Harvested from October through January, carrots(14) are an excellent source of antioxidants: vitamin C, lutein, beta-carotene, and cyanidins. Beta-carotene converts into vitamin A,(15) a nutrient linked to a strong immune system.
Thanks to their slightly sweet taste, carrots are a great addition to both savory and sweet dishes. You can add it to smoothies along with other fruits and veggies. To avoid all the prep work, stock up on dehydrated carrots and get your antioxidant!
So, which of these winter fruits and vegetables will you eat to prevent colds and the flu? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments below!