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We're often encouraged to eat fruits and vegetables that are deep in colour -- but winter white foods are loaded with health benefits as well.

Winter white foods a great way to stay healthy this season

Digital writers

Thursday, January 16, 2014, 3:32 PM -

Health experts recommend that adults eat about two cups of fruits and up to three cups of vegetables each day.

Often we're encouraged to reach for ones that are rich and deep in color -- but the winter months offer other produce options that may not be as flashy, but are still good for our health.

Veggies such as white potatoes, cauliflower, turnips, onions, garlic and even parsnips are loaded with help benefits.

These foods "offer vitamins and nutrients but they also have some compounds in them that help to fight cancer, fight heart disease as well as keep your blood pressure in check, as well as cholesterol levels," says registered dietitian Marisa Moore.

Potatoes often get a bad rap, but experts say it's what we put on them, not the vegetable itself, that's an issue.

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"White potatoes are virtually fat free and they are also a good source of vitamin C and a great source of potassium which helps to lower blood pressure levels," Moore says.  

Garlic contains a compound that has been shown to reduce the risk for prostate and stomach cancer, and onions have nutrients that help with digestion.  

When it comes to winter white fruits, pale flesh fruits like apples and pears top the list.  

"There are some studies to show that eating an apple or a pear a day can help lower the risk of stroke," Moore says.  

"We can get most produce year round, but when we buy what's in season it's usually cheaper and tastes better."



Your diet is the key to your health and this is particularly true during the harsh winter season. Keeping your immunity strong and avoiding weight gain can be achieved through healthy eating. Rose Reisman is an expert in health and wellness. In 2011, she spoke to the Weather Network about winter nutrition.

Vitamin D is essential in the winter. What foods contain a high dose of this substance?

“We all know that Vitamin D is not easy to find in foods, and the foods that it is in aren't necessary what we like -- such as cod liver oil. So what you really have to do is find foods that are fortified (that's really the magic word). Dairy and cereal are the best for this. You have to read that it's fortified with Vitamin D. But don't go for a high sugar cereal just because it contains the proper vitamins. If you're a coffee lover, it's a good idea to ask your local java shop if your milk is fortified with Vitamin D. Keep in mind that most cheeses, yogurt and ice creams are not fortified.”

What foods would you recommend if you're trying to avoid catching a cold?

“Eating a surplus of fruits and vegetables because they’re loaded with anti-oxidants and Vitamin C. Remember that supplements are also good, but people shouldn't depend on them and eat a junk diet.”

What types of foods should we avoid for lack of nutritional value?

“Canned, processed or packaged foods are the ones that have so few nutrients -- the food has been dehydrated, has extra sodium and added fat. You really want to get food that is as natural as possible.”

I don't eat a lot of meat. Is fish a good option?

“Fatty fish like tuna, salmon and sardines are good options to boost your immunity. The reason is twofold. Not only do they contain high levels of Vitamin D, but they're also high in Omega 3 fatty acids.”

An apple a day CAN keep the doctor away!

An apple a day CAN keep the doctor away!

Can spices help keep you healthier in the winter?

“Spices are also helpful for your immune system. Ginger is great, cinnamon is great. In India I know they have a lower rate of cancer than we do -- a lot of it is related to spices.”

Are people more likely to gain weight in the winter?

“People do have a tendency to gain weight during the winter because of inactivity. You have to eat carefully and I think in the winter we just get cold, a little blue and we tend to eat more comfort foods.”

What's really wrong with a little bit of comfort food?

“The problem with comfort foods is that they're usually higher in fat and sugar. There are certain dishes that are particularly unhealthy especially during the winter. Things like poutine -- I can't find any good nutrients there. Potatoes are okay, but don't smother them with butter or sour cream. You really have to identify what your comfort foods are and how you prepare them. If it's macaroni and cheese, try making it with skim milk or use a little less cheese, to cut down on the calories.”

Do you believe people are more drawn to carbohydrates when it's cold outside?

“Although it may be psychological, we do tend to gravitate towards more carbohydrates during the winter months to keep us warm. I think it's really about raising the serotonin levels in our brains that makes us feel better during the wintertime. People just don't feel good unless it's sunny outside, so it's almost a guarantee that you'll reach for potato chips, chocolate bars and ice cream.”

Any advice for the carbohydrate lover?

“Stick to the carbs but make sure they're more complex carbohydrates. Introduce yourself to the grains but don't get into the habit of depriving yourself.”

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