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Diet

Winter Vegetables and Their Benefits

By Addie Roberts

November 24th, 2020

The winter season brings a lot of joy and cheer along with its cold weather and changing leaves. It also brings about a whole new array of fresh vegetables that are harvested during this time as well. Some of those vegetables include spinach, carrots, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, winter squash, and many more. These vegetables can also often be found throughout the year due to our advanced food system, but they’re considered ‘in season’ and are most fresh when they are naturally grown and harvested in the winter months.

Eating fruits and vegetables in their natural growing and harvesting season can ensure that they are the most nutrient dense and healthy for you as well. You can often find these fruits and vegetables locally during their natural season, which can also help support your local economy. Along with these natural and environmental benefits, the vegetables themselves provide tons of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to us when we include them in our diet

Spinach

Spinach is a very popular and mild tasting leafy green vegetable. This dark green leafy plant is usually grown all year around, although its natural season is in the winter when it’s typically harvested. Spinach leaves can be used as a leafy green base for salads, mixed into smoothies for added nutrients, sauteed as a side dish or mixed into a soup or egg scramble.

Spinach is very rich in antioxidants, which keep our bodies healthy at a cellular level. It’s also rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, and many other vitamins and minerals. It can be an excellent source of nutrients and does not have a strong flavor.

Carrots

Carrots are a slightly sweet, crunchy, colorful vegetable. Carrots can be grown all winter long, unlike a lot of common fruits and vegetables. These vegetables grow in the ground and can be orange, white, purple, or a variety of colors in between. Once harvested, you can buy them in their whole long carrots form or as baby carrots, which are shaved down to give you the bite size vegetable we all love.

Carrots are a very rich source of vitamin A, which is why they’re commonly linked to eye health. They are also a good source of vitamin K and vitamin C as well as a good source of fiber which is beneficial for our gastrointestinal health.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables are a classification including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts. These are all nutrient dense vegetable options that are all harvested in the late fall to winter months, while some can also be grown in the spring as well. Oven times these cruciferous vegetables are cut and baked but can be made using a variety of cooking methods.

Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and brussel sprouts are all a very high source of vitamin K and vitamin C. In fact, just one cup of cauliflower has 100% of your daily vitamin C needs! These vegetables contain small amounts of calcium and iron as well.

Winter Squash

Winter squash is typically found most readily in the fall and winter months of the year. This classification of vegetable includes pumpkins, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, and many more squash varieties. Winter squash can be more time consuming to cook because they need to be cut open, deseeded, chopped, and then cooked. However, they are a delicious and cozy vegetable that can be very filling to add to recipes.

Most of these winter squash are a great source of carotenoids, the plant precursor to vitamin A, as well as vitamin C. They contain higher amounts of carbohydrate than most vegetables, but are still a great source of nutrients to include in a balanced diet and can be a great way to incorporate more seasonal vegetables in your weekly routine.

There are such a wide variety of winter vegetables that can be enjoyed with ever greater nutrient benefits in the winter months. These vegetables are very versatile and can be made into delicious side dishes or mixed into entrees and meals as you see fit. Choose one of these winter vegetables and try to incorporate it into your weekly routine this week, create a recipe with it in a new way, or try one you’ve never had in order to increase your overall nutrient intake!


By Addie Roberts
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