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July 17, 2023

The winter superfoods a dietitian eats every day

Filed under: Fitness — Tags: — admin @ 11:07 am

As we reach the middle of winter, the shorter days and chilly temps can start to get the better of us.

Nutritionally too, it can be hard to keep on track with the lure of winter comfort foods especially strong.

So, at a time when we need maximal nutrients to fend of the winter bugs, here are some of the nutritional superfoods to include a whole lot more of in your diet to help boost your mood, energy and immune function.

READ MORE: The power of protein at breakfast: ‘Still working at dinner’

Woman in bed with flu
What we eat can help us stay healthy in winter. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Red capsicum

Forget eating an apple a day, when it comes to getting a massive hit of Vitamin C to help you power through winter, you cannot go past adding a red capsicum into your day.

A single red capsicum contains more than double the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, plus it is a rich source of beta carotene, dietary fibre and antioxidants.

Red capsicum is especially rich in carotenoids, the group of antioxidants known to play a powerful role in helping to regulate a number of inflammatory pathways in the body.

So, whether you enjoy it cooked in mixed meals, add it to salads or sandwiches, or munch on one as a snack, there are only nutritional benefits associated with including more in your diet.  

red capsicum
A single red capsicum contains more than double the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. (iStock)

Eggs

At a time when as many as 30 per cent of all Australians have low Vitamin D levels, you cannot look past a couple of eggs to kick start your day. Packed with protein, key nutrients including zinc as well as 20 other vitamins and minerals including a decent amount of vitamin D, which is found in very few foods, eggs can easily be incorporated into any meal and prepared in minutes.

Whether they are enjoyed for breakfast on wholegrain toast, added to sandwiches or salads at lunchtime or whipped into a quick frittata or omelette, eggs are without doubt a winter superfood.

And before you get too concerned about the cholesterol content of eggs, keep in mind that it is not cholesterol but saturated fat that increases blood cholesterol levels, and one to two eggs each day will not have adverse effects on blood cholesterol when consumed as part of a nutritionally balanced diet. 

Quick Shakshuka Eggs
Eggs are a great winter superfood. (Australian Eggs)

Atlantic salmon

Another frequently mentioned superfood, not only is salmon one of the richest natural sources of the anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fat, but it also offers a range of other important nutrients specifically involved in metabolism and immune function including zinc, selenium, iodine and Vitamin D.

A single 100 gram serve of salmon offers more than your entire daily recommended intake of Omega-3 fat, and the trick is to also eating the skin where you can as this where much of the good fats are found. Including a serve of salmon in your diet, at least every second day throughout winter is an easy way to help natural boost your Vitamin D intake via a nutrient rich protein. 

READ MORE: Is a cheat meal undoing your diet?

Leafy greens

When it comes to vegetables, while all veggies are good for us, it is the leafy greens that standout when we take a closer look at the specific nutritional benefits.

Whether you reach for kale, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, spinach or Asian greens, green veggies routinely find themselves on superfood lists thanks to their key role in keeping the cells healthy and free from illness and infection.

Exceptionally rich in folate, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A, these veggies are rich sources of dietary fibre and are very low in calories which make them a food most people will benefit eating a whole lot more of, especially when the immune system needs to be in tip top condition.

In food terms this winter, this translates into at least a couple of serves of leafy greens, raw or cooked, every single day. 

READ MORE: Dietitian ranks popular ready-made soups by salt content

Roast vegetables
Add more leafy green vegetables to your diet this winter. (iStock)

Extra virgin olive oil

Not always considered a superfood, with exceptionally high levels of powerful antioxidants that help to protect our cells from damage, Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil has one of the highest proportions of monounsaturated fat and lowest proportion of saturated fat of all the cooking oils available.

Often considered a poor choice for cooking at high temperatures, the truth is that the high quality of olive oil means that it can be used in most dishes with the exception of deep frying, as well as used as a flavoursome dressing. The fresher the olive oil, the higher the antioxidant content so replace your olive oil every 2-3 months.

Also keep in mind that ‘light’ varieties are not lighter in fat or calories and spray varieties lack the nutrient quality of fresh oil. Research suggests that including as much as two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil each day will help you to reap the many health benefits and olive oil will offer a flavoursome base to your favourite casseroles, stir fries and roasts this winter.

dietitian susie burrell
Susie Burrell shares her go to winter superfoods. (Susie Burrell)

Shellfish

Not always the first food that comes to mind when we talk superfoods, while all seafood is good for us, shellfish including oysters, mussels and scallops are especially rich in a number of key micronutrients that can be tricky to find in other foods.

Specifically, oysters and mussels offer an exceptionally high amount of both zinc and iron per serve, nutrients that can both be low in the diets of Australian’s and nutrients that play important roles in immune function and energy production.

While fresh seafood may not be budget friendly for everyone in current times, the good news is that you can find canned varieties of both mussels and oysters which offer all the same nutritional benefits for a fraction of the price of fresh seafood. 

Author Susie Burrell is a leading Australian dietitian and nutritionist, founder of Shape Me, co-host of The Nutrition Couch podcast and prominent media spokesperson, with regular appearances in both print and television media commenting on all areas of diet, weight loss and nutrition.

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