Healthy diet for winter
Nature is the best physician. It gives us fruits and vegetables that are needed by the body for the different seasons. Vitamin C helps strengthen our immune system and protects the body from colds and coughs. In winter, we get plenty of oranges and mousambi (sweet lime rich in Vitamin C. So, it is a good idea to include them in your daily diet. Green leafy vegetables are also rich in Vitamin C and many minerals.
Winter is the season for greens like palak, methi and sarson ka saag. Lettuce is also easily available in winter. So, choose from these leafy green vegetables for your daily meals. In winter, the body also needs more Vitamin A. So, have plenty of orange vegetables and fruits, like papaya and carrots.
Amla is easily available in winter and is probably the best source of Vitamin C. It is said that the Vitamin C in amla is so stable that it is not destroyed by heat. The juice of one raw amla can be taken daily, diluted with a glass of water and one teaspoon honey.
Both Vitamin A and C are very important for the skin. Vitamin C strengthens the immune system and delays early aging. It also helps to maintain healthy collagen, the supportive tissue of the skin. Similarly, Vitamin A and E play significant roles in maintaining the softness and smoothness of the skin texture.
Dates, seeds, nuts and dry fruits are available in plenty during the winter months. So are peas. These provide proteins, vitamins and minerals which are needed by the body. They are a source of energy, which the body requires in winter, to maintain body heat. Savouries and snacks are made from seeds like sesame seed (til) and peanuts. However, nuts should be taken unsalted and one should be careful not to have them in large quantities, as they contain fat. Those suffering from high cholesterol should check with a doctor first before taking nuts in large quantity.
A diet that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables, unprocessed cereals, sprouted grains, nuts, seeds and yoghurt, can make you look and feel much better in winter. Fruit and vegetable juices, freshly extracted are ideal. You can make them from seasonal fruits, like oranges, mausambi, pomegranate (anaar), or from carrots, spinach or cabbage.
Juices not only ensure a supply of valuable nutrients, but also help to cleanse and purify the system. Fruit and vegetable juices are best taken freshly extracted and diluted with water.
Winter is also the time for hot drinks. Instead of tea and coffee, try herb teas and clear soups. Some of the ingredients in herbal teas are ginger, embilica (amla), barley, rose, liquorice (mulethi), black pepper and so on. These help in aiding digestion, warming the body, calming the nerves, protecting the digestive system and preventing cold.
In Ayurveda, ginger is known as “a universal remedy” because it has so many benefits. Ginger tea is advocated for coughs and colds. If lemon is added, it makes a tasty drink. Black pepper and tulsi, for instance, are also said to be useful in coughs, colds and respiratory congestion.
Hot soups can be delicious during winter. You can make a mixed vegetable soup with potatoes, carrots, turnip, peas, tomato and so on. Or make a spinach soup (palak). Fresh mushrooms, available in winter, make good soups too, especially if you add a little milk. After boiling the vegetables, strain and puree the vegetables in a mixer. Then add it back to the water. Add salt and black pepper, along with a little milk to make it tasty and more wholesome. In spinach soup, you can add a dash of lemon juice. Grated cheese also makes a tasty addition to vegetable soups.