Superfoods are not just healthy foods; they are teeming with antioxidants that scavenge free radicals, keeping your cells in tip-top shape. Fruits and vegetables are known for their high antioxidant and nutrient content and eating lots of them can help protect against heart disease, cancer and other illnesses. What is one to do in the wintertime when the variety of seasonal produce is limited? Don’t fret, you’ll be surprised that many of the vegetables and fruits now available at your local farmers’ market and produce stand are, in fact, superfoods. This is a great time to take advantage of the many nutrient-dense and delicious fruits and vegetables that are in season now.
Brussels sprouts, a member of the cabbage family, are a fabulous source of vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, and dietary fiber. Brussels sprouts are full of disease-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals. A large body of research has documented an extensive list of health benefits attributed to Brussels sprouts due to their anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and cholesterol-lowering properties.
Okay, so people tend to either love or hate Brussels sprouts, but most likely if you don’t like them you just have not tried
them prepared the right way. Overcooking Brussels sprouts is problematic for two reasons. Excessive boiling releases an off-putting sulfurous smell and may leach out sprouts’ health protecting nutrients. For best results, cleaned and trimmed sprouts should be steamed for about
seven minutes. Other popular cooking methods include grilling and roasting. For quicker cooking time, try slicing your sprouts in halves or quarters.
If you have a chance to visit your neighborhood farmers market you are likely to see a wide selection of squashes. There is the bright yellow banana squash, the cylinder-shaped spaghetti squash that gets its name from the spaghetti-shaped strands that form when its flesh is cooked, and the pear-shaped butternut squash with a cream-colored skin. You can not mistake the acorn squash, which truly looks like a large dark green acorn with yellow and orange speckled skin.
Winter squash is low in fat and an excellent source of fiber, making it a particularly healthy and satisfying choice. Rich in vitamin A in the form of beta carotene, winter squash is an important food for healthy vision especially when it comes to preventing age-related macular degeneration. In addition, a one cup serving of winter squash supplies nearly half the recommended daily dose of vitamin C. Squash presents endless culinary possibilities. It tastes great simply baked in the oven until soft and lightly seasoned, or it can be pureed into a creamy, velvety soup or added to a pasta or risotto dish.
While kiwi is available year-round, the ones that you are seeing at the supermarket right now are California kiwis,
which are produced during the winter and early spring. Kiwi is rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, and a bunch of phytonutrients called flavonoids and carotenoids. In fact, one kiwi contains more vitamin C than an orange. The nutrients in kiwis are beneficial for boosting the immune system and protecting against respiratory-related health problems and recurrent ear infections. Kiwis are tasty when eaten alone or added to a colorful fruit salad. You can peel them and slice them up or cut one in half and scoop out the inside with a spoon. I know this might sound weird, but the brown fuzzy kiwi skin is actually edible so you can even bite right into it like an apple.
Pomelo, the world’s largest citrus fruit, looks like a grapefruit with yellow skin and pink or yellow fruit inside. Limonene is an antioxidant found in the pomelo with anti-cancer effects. Pomelo is also an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium and fiber.
Due to its milder and somewhat sweeter flesh, pomelo makes a suitable alternative to grapefruit at your morning meal. Pomelos are easy to peel and can be eaten in segments or cut into pieces.
Please feel free to ask questions below!
LeeAnn Smith Weintraub, MPH, RD