This time of year, it seems like every time you turn on the TV or open up Facebook, someone is talking about tips and tricks for staying healthy during the winter months. And while being a stickler about hand washing, disinfecting your workspace, and getting plenty of rest is excellent advice for avoiding seasonal colds, one area you cannot—I repeat, cannot—neglect is your diet.
If a strong, high-functioning immune system is your goal, then consuming quality, nutrient-dense foods needs to be a keystone in your game plan. Cruising the produce aisle is the perfect way to start, as fruits and veggies are a foolproof upgrade for your vitamin and mineral intake. But while you’re at the supermarket, pay special attention to these six seasonal foods. They’ll strengthen your body’s defences while providing increased energy and even a revved metabolism, so you’ll feel and perform your best from now until springtime.
Cauliflower doesn’t get the same love as its cousin broccoli, but it’s also a very nutrient-dense cruciferous vegetable. Cauliflower contains sulforaphane, a potent compound that encourages optimal cell function and can blunt cancer-cell growth, and lowers high blood pressure. Cauliflower is chock-full of anti-inflammatory nutrients like indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which supports healthy estrogen metabolism. It also provides plenty of B-vitamins, minerals like magnesium and potassium, and is a decent source of dietary fiber (3 g per cup).
Kale is a trendy and popular cruciferous veggie on the nutrition front for good reason. It’s rich in chlorophyll, vitamin K for bone and vascular health, antioxidants like zeaxanthin and lutein, collagen-boosting nutrients like vitamin C, as well as beta-carotene for strong joints and vibrant skin. Kale is also a great source of fiber to support healthy gut bacteria, a crucial component of immune support.
3) Pink Grapefruit
Often overlooked, pink grapefruit packs a serious nutrient punch. It’s rich in immune boosting vitamins C and A which help fight off colds and flu (not to mention the negative effects of stress). They also contain flavonoids like lycopene which help lower triglycerides and protect the skin from UV damage. Pink grapefruit is a great source of pectin, a.k.a. soluble fiber, which helps keep the bowels moving and the gut microbiome healthy.
They may seem like a common protein staple, but eggs go way beyond muscle-building power. Not only do they provide 6 g of protein each, but the yolk is effectively “nature’s multivitamin,” providing a phenomenal array of all essential vitamins and minerals. They’re also rich in choline, which is crucial for supporting the body’s stress response, as well as recovery in the gym. Approximately 90 percent of the population are deficient in choline, so don’t pitch the yolks! Aim for at least 1-2 yolks per egg-based meal.
Beets are another all-around superfood that provide numerous body benefits. Beets are a good source of electrolytes like potassium, immune and collagen boosting vitamin C, and dietary folate to support energy and red blood cell production. Beets are crazy high in naturally occurring nitrates, which convert into nitric oxide—a potent vasodilator—in the body.
Mussels, like all shellfish, are another nutritional heavyweight. A 3 oz serving of mussels are incredibly nutrient-dense, providing 20 g of high-quality protein and 700 mg of omega-3 essential fats. Mussels deliver over 100 percent of the RDA for selenium (a powerful antioxidant required for thyroid hormone conversion), 300 percent of the RDA for vitamin B12, and a highly bioavailable source of iron (6 mg per serving). If the winter has you feeling tired, rundown, or you’re planning on attacking the gym in the next week, make mussels a weekly staple in your diet.
(This article originally appeared at StrongFitnessMag.com)
Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CISSN, CSCS