Eating seasonally is certainly not a new concept, however it should become more common. Shopping for your produce while it’s in season is not only more beneficial for your health, but your wallet as well. In terms of your health, foods that are in season are better tasting + more nutrient dense; and the reason you save money is because the cost of growing/distributing the produce is cheaper, and are generally grown more locally. Produce that is out of season is more likely to be coming from other countries, which means they are harvested before they are fully ripened so they don’t spoil by the time they reach the store or your kitchen (Henry, 2014).
Here is the list of winter produce I found on the USDA’s website:
Apples are packed with nutrients – Vitamins C, K, B6, and riboflavin; potassium, copper, manganese, and magnesium; 12% of your daily fiber requirement; and phytonutrients (Organic Facts), which generally act as anti-inflammatories + antioxidants (Szalay, 2015). In terms of benefits, apples are good for helping aid in digestion + improve intestinal health, controlling diabetes, helping prevent heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s Diseases, can help promote weight loss, and more (Organic Facts).
If you’re guilty of consuming tons of guacamole, you’re in luck! Avocados contain 6 grams of (healthy) fat and are loaded with various vitamins + minerals, such as Vitamins C, E, K, and B6, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium, lutein, beta-carotene, and omega-3’s (Ware, 2017).
As far as health benefits, avocados are good for osteoporosis prevention/treatment, heart health, preventing certain types of cancers + other chronic diseases, gut health + detoxification, vision, fetal development, and even lowering risk of depression (Ware, 2017).
While this fruit consists mostly of water and carbs, bananas have 3.1 grams of fiber and rich in Vitamins B6 + C, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and copper. Bananas are known to benefit digestion, heart health, and weight loss (HealthLine).
I have to admit, I’ve tried beets and (personally) I’m not a big fan. However, if you are, winter is the best time to buy them. They’re stocked full of Vitamin C, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorus, fiber, anthocyanins, some organic compounds, and sugar – they have the highest sugar content of any vegetable.
As far as health benefits, they’re great for preventing certain cancers, respiratory problems, cataracts, and strokes, improving heart + liver health, reducing birth defects, and more (Organic Facts).
Not a lot of people are super into these little green vegetables, but they sure are packed with nutrients. A single cup of brussels sprouts contains 195% of your daily intake of Vitamin K, 125% of Vitamin C, and over 10% of Vitamins A, B6, and folate, as well as potassium and manganese. They are also full of protein when compared to other green vegetables. When it comes to benefitting your health, brussels sprouts are good for reducing risk for certain types of cancers, improving bone health + vision, help manage diabetes, and improving your skin’s health + appearance (Ware, 2017).
Whenever I think about cabbage, all I can think of is how bad it would stink up my classroom when we would boil it for a science experiment. However, it’s got plenty of Vitamin K and B6, folate, thiamin, magnesium, calcium, and potassium, as well as lots of antioxidants! Not only does cabbage help reduce cancer risk, but it’s also been shown in studies to provide protection from radiation therapy due to it’s DIM content. Other than that, cabbage has anti-inflammatory properties and is good for promoting heart health and regulating immunity + digestion (Ware, 2017).
If you’re a carrot lover, you’re in luck – carrots are never out of season! They’re one of the few fruits + veggies that are in-season all year round. Carrots are 81% water and contain lots of fiber, which are beneficial for regulating blood sugar and digestion. In terms of vitamins + minerals, carrots are rich in Vitamins A, B6, K, biotin, and potassium. It also contains beta-carotene and lutein, both of which are important for eye health. Other health benefits include decreased cancer risk, weight loss, and lower cholesterol (Bjarnadottir, 2015).
Celery is a great food to have on hand if you’re trying to diet – it’s only 10 calories a stalk and made up of mostly water and fiber (Butler, 2016). Additionally, it contains Vitamins A, C, and K, folate, and potassium along with lots of antioxidants (Nordqvist, 2017). As a result, health benefits of celery include good blood sugar control, digestion support, decreases in inflammation, and can neutralize acidic foods (Butler, 2016).
This low-calorie, hydrating superfruit is packed with nutrients and provides great benefits for your health. It’s high in Vitamin C, as well as Vitamin A, thiamine, folate, potassium, and magnesium (Elliott, 2017). Grapefruit has been shown to help with weight loss, controlling blood sugar and cholesterol, lower cancer risk as well as blood pressure, boost your immune system, and can even increase your energy. However, it does have tendencies to react with certain types of medications – read up on the warnings of your meds before you start incorporating grapefruit into your diet (Gardner, 2016).
Kale is by far one of the most nutrient dense foods. A one cup serving alone contains 206% of your recommended Vitamin A, 134% of your Vitamin C, and 684% of your Vitamin K intakes for the day. Furthermore, it also provides Vitamin B6, manganese, calcium, copper, potassium, magnesium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, and phosphorus. It even provides a sizable portion of omega-3, which is beneficial for heart health, and antioxidants. Like most produce so far, it’s other health benefits include helping to lower cholesterol and fight cancer; it’s also good for eye health and weight loss (Gunnars, 2017).
Leeks contain Vitamins A, C, E, and B6, and include the following minerals: calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese. These work to provide health benefits such as reducing risk of cancer + various chronic diseases, as well as provide antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory effects, and work to benefit heart health and reduce diabetes (Seward, 2016).
Time to bring out the lemon water! Lemon’s are great for getting Vitamin C, but it also provides other various vitamins + minerals, such as potassium and phosphorus (Ware, 2017). There are plenty of health benefits to incorporating lemons into your diet, but the most common ones include improving digestive health, assisting with weight loss, maintaining a good complexion, increasing immunity, and boosting heart health (West, 2017; Ware, 2017).
Onions tend to show up just about everywhere – they’re incredibly easy to add to recipes and can provide great health benefits. They contain Vitamins C + B6, manganese, calcium, iron, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and antioxidants. Benefits include reduced cancer risk – especially stomach, prostate, colorectal cancers. Additionally, onions tend to promote better sleep and might even help to reduce depression due to its folate content. Lastly, its Vitamin C content is good for maintaining healthy skin + hair (Ware, 2017).
Oranges are quite possibly one of the best fruits you can reach for. Everyone is probably well aware that they are full of Vitamin C (130% of your recommended daily intake in just one orange!) But they also contain Vitamins A + B6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and copper, and 170+ phytochemical and 60+ flavonoids which have anti-inflammatory properties (Ware, 2017).
By now you’re probably no stranger to the fact that Vitamin C plays a huge role in boosting immunity + decreasing cancer risk, but it is also beneficial for heart health and maintaining a clear complexion. An orange’s fiber content can also help control diabetes (Ware, 2017).
They’re like carrots, but not (just in case you don’t entirely know what a parsnip is). It’s a fibrous vegetable and contains folate, potassium, and Vitamin C, therefore benefitting your heart, immune system, growth, weight loss, and can also reduce the risk of birth defects (Organic Facts, 2017).
Pears are high in dietary fiber, copper, and Vitamins C + K (World’s Healthiest Foods). As a result, pears are good for assisting digestion and helping treat diverticulitis (inflammation of the intestinal lining), decreasing cholesterol, risk of heart disease, and diabetes, detoxing, weight loss, and fighting against free radicals and their potential damage to the body (Ware, 2017).
It’s interesting that such a summery fruit is in season during the winter, huh? But pineapples are loaded with Vitamin C, providing 131% of your daily intake, so it’s a great fruit to keep your immune system boosted! It also has Vitamins A + B6, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and beta-carotene, as well as plus other antioxidants. Benefits include decreased risk of age-related muscular degeneration, asthma prevention, decreased blood pressure, decreased cancer risk, management of diabetes, improved digestion, fertility promotion, decreased inflammation + increased healing, decreased risk of heart disease, and maintenance of a healthy complexion (Ware, 2017).
Potatoes are so versatile and easy to add as a side to any meal. They’re loaded with carbs and dietary fiber, as well as Vitamins C + B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, alpha-lipoic acid, and antioxidants. Health benefits include increased bone health (due to all the minerals), improved heart health, blood pressure, muscle movement, mood, learning, and memory, increased metabolism + digestion, weight maintenance, decreased risk of cancer, healthier skin and boosted immunity (Ware, 2017).
I already have an in-depth review of pumpkin and it’s health benefits here, but to recap, pumpkin is high in Vitamins A, B6, C, and E, folate, riboflavin, niacin, potassium, copper, manganese, pantothenic acid, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, and water (Ware, 2017). Pumpkins help with weight loss, vision, skin, fighting cancer, immunity, and helping diabetes (Obenschain, 2014).
Rutabagas are essentially a white turnip and are high in Vitamin C, zinc, and dietary fiber (Tremblay), as well as potassium, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and Vitamins E + K. Benefits include cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes and premature aging prevention, improved digestion, metabolism, and immunity, decreased blood pressure, and promotion of weight loss and enzymatic function within the body (Organic Facts).
Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite vegetables to have around the house – they’re just so delicious and they’re great for both human and dogs! I’ve made little homemade doggie treats + chews for Arlyn and he loves them (and yes, your furry children should be getting veggies too!) Sweet potatoes are great for reaching your Vitamin A intake for the day as one medium sized sweet potato has well over 100% of your Vitamin A needs for the day; they also contain Vitamins C, E, B6, and potassium, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, riboflavin, and folate. Sweet potatoes are good for helping with diabetes, blood pressure, and obesity, keeping digestive function regular, improving vision and immunity, decreasing inflammation, and promoting fertility (Ware, 2017).
Last but not least, winter squash. Winter squash is high in lots of nutrients: Vitamins A, C, B2, B3, B6, and K, fiber, manganese, copper, potassium, pantothenic acid, folate, Omega-3s, and magnesium. Health benefits include antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support, decreased risk of cancer, regulation of blood glucose, and decreasing risk of heart disease (World’s Healthiest Foods).
I will be posting spring, summer, and fall lists similar to this one when those seasons roll around – but until then, if you are interested in doing your research, you can also check out www.seasonalfoodguide.org! Happy shopping!