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8 Winter Superfoods You Need to Eat in 2017

Winter may be cold, dark and bleak, but it’s peak season for some of our most powerful produce: winter superfood. The term “winter superfood” isn’t all that precisely defined (and advertisers often use it just as a way of making a particular food sound better than it really is), but the way we look at it is that true winter superfood often share similarities. They don’t come neatly packaged or boxed up, with labels on them with LOADS of extra ingredients; true superfoods come naturally packaged from the earth.

Thankfully, winter brings a some AMAZING winter superfood to help you start your 2017 with a bang, and while they may not be labelled as “winter superfood” on the shelf, they certainly boast a rich, nutrient-dense profile that extends way beyond the usual belly-filling goodness and health benefits.

Check out my top 8 picks for superfoods you should try to add to your daily or weekly diet!

8 Winter Superfood

1. SWEET POTATOES

Sweet Potato

Compared to ordinary white potatoes, sweet potatoes contain more dietary fibre, and more vitamin A and C. These are both essential vitamins that promote better eye, tooth and skin health; in fact it’s the beta-carotene that vitamin A carries (and that I’ve spoken about before in my Nutritional Guide) gives the sweet potato its unique orange colour making it a great winter superfood.

Buying and storage tips:

When selecting sweet potatoes, you’re looking for them to feel relatively dense compared to their size; remember the smaller ones will have a sweeter taste and a creamier texture. Make sure there’s very little bruising, soft spots, or sprouting. Store them in a cool, dark place—but not in the fridge. Cold temperatures can alter the potato’s cell structure, creating resistant starches that are hard to digest.

2. POMEGRANATES

pomegranates

These little gems are filled with hundreds of tiny sweet red seeds called arils, which make it one of the wintertime’s most delicious winter superfood. Again, pomegranates are an excellent source of dietary fibre, giving you 7g per 1 cup serving, while the arils themselves are filled with cancer-fighting polyphenols. Here’s a wee bonus too: research has shown that pomegranates may even help lower cholesterol by preventing plaque buildup in your arteries. They’re great to add to your salads, yogurts and smoothies, or to your protein-rich meals, like chicken or fish, to give them a festive edge.

Buying and storage tips:

Think plump, heavy and round. Go for weight versus size, as the heavier the fruit the more juice it will contain. Once you’ve deseeded them, store them in water. They’ll keep in the fridge for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 3 months.

3. PARSNIPS

Parsnips

Compared to its colourful cousin Mr. Carrot, the parsnip has two-times the dietary fibre. They also carry nearly as much potassium as a banana, and a hefty amount of vitamin C, folate and manganese, all of which play an essential role in blood sugar regulation and brain function Parsnips also have a unique sweet nutty flavour—in fact before sugar became widely available, parsnips were once used to sweeten savoury dishes. A great winter superfood I’m sure you would agree.

Buying and storage tips:

Avoid buying the extra-large parsnips, as they tend to have a tough woody core. Smaller varieties will be sweeter and much more tender. Store in a dark cool place, or in the fridge unwashed.

4. SWISS CHARD

Swiss Chard

When you think of Swiss chard, you want to think of a delicate, tender green leaves compared to its coarser alternative, kale. Chard can be wilted into your soups, pastas and casseroles, or tossed into a fresh salad to add an extra flavour. Like most dark leafy greens, chard is very nutritious, boasting a hefty 560 micrograms of vitamin K (that’s 700% of the daily value, thats 1 cupful 100g), and over 200 times the basic daily allowance of vitamin A (1 cupful, 100g). Alongside that, chard is also a good source of iron, folate, vitamin C, and potassium.

Buying and storage tips:

For the freshest bunch, choose chard with a firm, crisp stalk and crinkly tender greens. Avoid those with any spots or holes. Store unwashed in a plastic bag for up to 3 days—any longer than that, use it in soups or stews.

5. TURMERIC

Turmeric

This vibrant yellow spice brings its distinctly earthy, peppery flavour to most curry powders. It has a long history of medical use, and contains a compound called curcumin that’s currently being studied for its anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting antioxidant properties. Like its more familiar cousin, ginger, turmeric may also help treat heartburn or upset stomaches.

Buying and storage tips: 

When buying turmeric root, look for pieces that are firm with few blemishes.  You can keep the root stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Powdered turmeric, meanwhile, will keep quite happily on the shelf for several years.

6. BEETS

Beets

These winter superfood are literally bleeding with nutrients! They provide a hefty dose of antioxidants and 4g of dietary fibre, but only 60 calories per cupful. Beets contain more iron than spinach, and are a great source of potassium: a single cupful of beets has as much as a banana. A pigment called betalain gives the beets their vibrant red colour, and is of particular interest to heart-healthy, as it’s an effective anti-inflammatory.

Buying and storage tips: 

The root itself will keep refrigerated for several weeks. Beet greens have a shorter lifespan and will typically have to be used within a few days, but if they’re still attached to the beet they can continue to draw moisture from the root and survive a little longer. When you remove them, store them separately in the refrigerator, leaving about an inch of the stems still attached to the root.

7. CABBAGE

Cabbage

A cheap and easily-available winter superfood vegetable that provides just 33 calories but 3g of filling dietary fibre per cup, while just 1 cup of shredded cabbage carries more than 40% of your daily requirement of cold-fighting vitamin C. Red cabbage has high amounts of anthocyanin too, an antioxidant known to have strong heart health benefits. And I know you’ll be thinking that cabbage stinks when you’re cooking it—but that smell comes from the detoxifying sulphur compound found in cabbage.

Buying and storage tips:

To keep cabbage fresh and crisp, store the entire head in the fridge. Wrap it in plastic to limit exposure to air, and make sure you remove the outer leaves before use. Whatever you do, don’t store cabbage alongside apples or other fruits, as these naturally release ethylene gas and will cause the cabbage to spoil more quickly.

8. CITRUS FRUITS 

(ORANGES, TANGERINES, GRAPEFRUITS, LEMON, LIMES)

Citrus Fruit

It’s no surprise that you’ll need a boost of vitamin C during the winter months to stay healthy, but citrus fruits also contain a powerful flavonoid called hesperidia, which helps improve circulation and lower blood pressure making them a great winter superfood.

Buying and storage tips:

Make sure these feel plump and heavy for their size, as that’s a great sign of juiciness. Keeping them in the fridge will extend the life of citrus fruits by a few weeks, but if you’re going to juice them make sure you leave them out at room temperature—it’s easier to extract juice then than when they’re cold.

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