It's no joke that comfort food in the winter is often our go-to. What we didn't know is that there are a few warm and nourishing foods we love that are actually healthy for our bodies in the winter time. These foods help to heat our bodies from the inside out, so don't hesitate in including them in your daily routine until the spring is in full effect! Check out our list of healthy yet delicious winter foods you can enjoy without guilt.
1. Hot Chocolate
Hot chocolate can be good for you, as well as a great winter warmer! Pure cocoa is actually highly nutritious, and cacao — the raw, unroasted version of cocoa — even more so. It's rich in minerals such as magnesium and zinc, which are vital for energy and the immune system; and cacao in particular contains a wealth of antioxidant flavanols similar to those found in green tea, which may have benefits for the heart and brain. For a healthier winter hot chocolate, avoid the store-bought versions, which are often laden with sugar and contain very little cacao. Instead, make your own using raw cacao powder or a raw chocolate bar.
2. Green Tea with Ginger
Try swapping your regular tea for green tea with ginger. Green tea is thought to boost thermogenesis — literally meaning "the production of heat" — to a greater extent than normal tea, partly thanks to the flavanols it contains. This property of green tea may also help you to maintain a healthy weight by encouraging the burning of fat for energy. The flavanols have antioxidant properties too, which may benefit the skin, heart, brain, and immune system.
Ginger makes the perfect addition to green tea for a warming winter cup. It has natural warming and circulation-boosting properties and, like green tea, is thought to increase thermogenesis. Ginger is also fantastic for the digestion, and has been shown to have anti-viral and anti-bacterial activity, to help see off those winter bugs!
3. Seaweed (Sea Vegetables)
Although it’s not an obvious warming food, seaweed could hold the secret to keeping you warm this winter. Sea vegetables are our best natural source of iodine — a mineral that’s vital for making thyroid hormone, which controls our metabolism and body temperature. If we don’t get enough of this important mineral, thyroid hormone production can slow down and we can feel the cold more acutely. Keep yours topped up by including sea vegetables such as nori, dulse, or arame in your diet. They can be used to make wraps (nori), or they can be added to salads, soups, and stews for extra flavor. They can even be eaten as a snack!
What could be better than a bowl of warming oatmeal on a chilly winter morning? As well as getting something hot into your tummy before you step outside, wholegrain oats break down and release their energy more slowly than a sugary breakfast cereal or a slice of toast. So they should help keep you warm — and keep your energy up — throughout the morning. They’re also a good source of vitamins B1, B6, and magnesium, which help the body convert food to energy. And because they break down slowly and are high in fiber, they can also help keep you feeling full too.
Cinnamon is a fantastic warming winter spice that’s incredibly versatile. Try stirring a teaspoon into your oatmeal. Or for a delicious healthy snack, stir some into a bowl of natural yogurt with fresh berries or chopped nuts. Sprinkle it on your cappuccino, or use it to make spicy chai tea.
In addition to its warming properties, cinnamon may support blood sugar control by reducing the rise in blood sugar after a meal. Therefore, adding cinnamon to foods may help us to maintain a healthy weight and control sugar cravings — a particular benefit at this time of year! It’s also thought to have gentle blood-thinning properties, supporting heart health and circulation.
This article was originally written by Yours editors. For more, check out our sister site, Yours.