Ginger – Ginger generates a thermogenic effect, which means it produces heat inside the body, keeping us warm. It has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties, and boosts immunity. It is drying in nature, those suffering from piles should avoid consumption of raw ginger.
Jaggery (gur) – Jaggery is rich in antioxidants, iron, zinc, and magnesium and boosts the immune system. It helps to purify the blood. A small intake of gur after meals helps in the digestion process. People with diabetes should consume it in less quantity.
Nuts – Winters are the best time for the consumption of nuts. Nuts like peanuts, walnuts, and almonds are rich in omega fatty acids. They are the source of minerals, maintain energy levels and keep us warm. In small quantities, they can be had as mid-meal snacks. Always avoid drinking water after eating nuts.
Sesame Seeds (Til) – These aromatic seeds are rich in antioxidants and essential oils. You can make Til Laddu which is not only tasty but also the best food item which can be made with Til and Gur.
Sweet potato – Sweet potatoes are the source of fiber, vitamin A, B6, and C. These contain magnesium, potassium, anti-oxidants and prevent loss of free radicals. They improve digestion. You can roast them on gas or coal; a tasty Chaat made of sweet potato can do wonders to your mood.
Citrus fruits – There are numerous varieties of citrus fruits grown in India. You must be familiar with some common varieties like orange, lemon, and Indian gooseberry (Amla) and some lesser-known types like grapefruit, galgal, etc. They are a rich source of vitamin C and boosts immunity. Since winters are known for ailments like flu and viral diseases, consuming these sources of vitamin C keeps infection away.
Turmeric (haldi)– Turmeric, the most common spice in our kitchens has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. Regular consumption of turmeric boosts immunity and generates antioxidants inside the body. Golden milk or milk boiled with turmeric should be consumed at night in winters on alternate days.
Clarified butter (ghee) – Ghee is a super food. Some people consider ghee as evil without knowing that it is a powerhouse of vital nutrients. It is a source of essential fatty acids, antioxidants, boosts immunity, generates heat, keeps the brain and memory sharp, and is good for body joints. It helps in the absorption of minerals and vitamins and removes dryness. 1-2 tablespoons of Desi Ghee should be included in the diet.
Pickles (Achar) – Achars made of seasonal vegetables like carrot, cauliflower, etc. are good for the gut. It helps in the growth of gut bacteria, which helps in the digestion process. It has probiotic properties and the consumption of pickles in moderation is recommended in winters.
Tea – An average Indian doesn’t need any introduction to tea. Winters are the best time for the consumption of tea. Green tea with added herbs like tulsi, bay leaf (tejpatta), elaichi, cinnamon (dalchini) is beneficial for overall health and should be consumed on alternate days.
Other than these recommended food items, one can opt for seasonal vegetables like Palak, Methi, Broccoli, etc.
After knowing the healthy winter foods, let us look into some precautionary measures to be considered before consumption of any food item. These are:
Drink plenty of warm water in winters; avoid consumption of any aerated drink, that too directly from the refrigerator.
Consumption of any recommended food items should be done according to personal health conditions and body nature.
India is a large country, the intensity of winters varies all across the country, and therefore, it is recommended to consume food as per local conditions.
Many seniors don’t like winters since it is that time of the year when vatta and kapha dosha increase which leads to problems like joint pains, muscle cramps, cough, and cold.
However, with the right food and a healthy routine, one can not only keep diseases away but also utilise this season to retrieve the energy spent during last year and accumulate new energies for the future.