The colder it gets, the more your body craves an excess of carbs and fat. Pair that with the fact that fewer fruits and vegetables are in season, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for seasonal weight gain. Fortunately for you, I’ve got some great tips for how to stay fit through that long, cold winter.
1. Put pomegranates on a pedestal. A few years ago, pomegranate juice was all the rage. These tiny gem-like seeds (and the juice that comes from them) are rich in antioxidants, reduce arterial plaque buildup, and may improve blood flow to the heart. They’re delicious, extremely good for you, and a great snack option.
2. It’s easy being green. Dark leafy vegetables like kale, chard, and collards thrive in the chill of winter. They’re also especially high in potassium and vitamins A and C. Try them in salads, as sides, or even bake them as chips.
3. Eat your brussels sprouts. With more protein than most vegetables and lots of fiber, brussels sprouts make for a delicious and filling side dish. They can also help detoxify the body, fight cancer and reduce inflammation. Not bad for a vegetable we all hated as kids.
4. Squash all doubts. Low in fat and high in fiber, squash are one of the healthiest winter vegetables. The fiber makes it heart-friendly, potassium for enhanced blood flow, while vitamin B6 helps both the nervous system and immune system function efficiently. Plus, with names like butternut, acorn, spaghetti and delicata, they’re even more fun to say than they are to eat.
5. Orange you glad for citrus. Lime, lemon, orange, grapefruit, and citrus fruits are at their juiciest in the wintertime. Obviously they’re a powerful source of vitamin C, but did you know they’re also great for your cholesterol? Even better, their bright acidic flavors put you in mind of sunnier days ahead.
6. Pay attention to potatoes. Normally, starches are a bad thing, lumped together with bleached flour and white rice. But potatoes actually have a number of beneficial nutrients. They’ve got vitamins B6 and C which boost your immune system, folate for pregnant women, and if you can find the purple ones, they’re even known to lower risk of cancer and heart disease.
7. Open yourself up to oats. Rich in fiber, as well as both calcium and potassium, whole grain oats are a great way to stay heart healthy and reduce your blood pressure. The fiber will also fill you up, which is why studies show that people who eat oatmeal for breakfast consume 1/3 less calories at lunch. And it gets extra credit for actually warming you up.
Moral of the story, focus on enjoying the vegetables and fruits that are in season in the winter. The other staples of winter are just as good for you, like onions, carrots, fennel, turnips, and beets, which all have nutritional properties that help you lose weight and stay healthy. You can also indulge in foods high in protein and good fats, like lean meats, fish, nuts, olives and avocado. And before you know it winter will be out of the way and you’ll have a great crop of spring vegetables to choose from.
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