It seems every year when winter approaches, many of my patients complain, "There just aren’t as many fruits and veggies available.” I, of course, beg to differ. Yes, the farmers markets and supermarkets aren’t booming with an assortment of colorful berries (at least tasty and inexpensive ones), tomatoes, or spinach, but they still have plenty of healthy options. These five are delicious and provide the greatest nutrition bang for your caloric buck. You just might miss them come summer.
1. Beets. The problem with beets is that many people avoid them because they think they are high in sugar. However, that really isn’t so: One raw beet has 5.5 grams for 35 calories. [Tweet this fact!] Plus they are a good source of magnesium and calcium (both important for bone health), iron (which you need for energy and to prevent and hair loss), fiber (to help to fill you up), and folic acid (necessary for the production and maintenance of new cells in our bodies, and especially important for pregnant woman). Beets are especially important during the winter because they have a unique source of phytonutrients, called betalains, which provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support to help keep your immune system strong.
2. Brussels sprouts: A member of the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts have seen a recent rise in popularity, and that's a good thing. (I wonder what took everyone so long—I love them!) They are an excellent source of bone-strengthening vitamin K and may give you a glow thanks to the vitamin C, which supports collagen production and products against free radicals. A cup also provides 15 percent of your daily iron and 13 percent of your recommended fiber.
3. Cauliflower: Ever since we were told to load our plates with color, white foods have been getting a bad rap. Cauliflower doesn’t deserve it. It is an excellent source of folic acid and vitamins C and K, and also contains lots of iron, fiber, potassium for efficient muscle function, and B vitamins, which play a role in everything from hair growth to red blood cell creation to carrying oxygen and nutrients to cells of our body.
4. Clementines: I know the winter season is upon us when I see the boxes of clementines, a cross between a mandarin and an orange, in the supermarket. So easy to peel, they make the easiest grab-and-go citrus fruit this time of year. Besides being a excellent source of vitamin C, they also contain calcium and potassium, and are a great low calorie fruit: a serving of two clementines is only 80 calories. [Tweet this snack idea!]
5. Pears: I think pears are an overlooked fruit, with so many more people grabbing apples at this time of year. One of the highest-fiber fruits, a medium pear offers about 6 grams, which can help with blood sugar control and promote weight loss. An excellent source of vitamins C and K, pears are also packed with B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese.
Unfortunately during this time of year with everyone being so busy with holiday parties, events, and shopping, a lot of people are not eating enough fruits and veggies at all. When on the run, one option is a small Jamba Juice smoothie. I like the sixteen-ounce Berry UpBeet, which combines fruits and veggies, including beets.