10 Winter Superfoods For Great Health Benefits

A superfood is defined as being nutrient rich and especially beneficial for health and well-being. And just because the calendar says it is wintertime you can still find and enjoy these 10 superfoods many of which are in their prime this time of year. If they arent on your list they should be since they contain large nutritional doses of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and polyphenols.

Avocados

These green-skinned, pear-shaped fruits are higher in fat content than most other fruit mostly monosaturated fat and are an important staple in the diets of many with limited access to other fatty foods. It has been shown that those who have a diet high in avocado will have lower levels of cholesterol. Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients including vitamin E, B vitamins, fiber, potassium and folic acid. Avocados also enable the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients like alpha and beta-carotene and lutein in foods that are eaten with fruit.

Avocado Fact: Avocados were once a luxury food reserved for the tables of royalty.

Berries

Berries blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are a fleshy fruit produced from a single flower. Considered by many to be one of the strongest antioxidant foods in the United States, blackberries are known for their high levels of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and folic acid. They also have notable levels of polyphenolic compounds such as ellagic acid, tannins, ellagitannis, quercetin, gallic acid, anthocyannis and cyanidins.

Native to North America, blueberries are the second most consumed berry in the United States right behind the strawberry and rank near the top in its antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings. They are an excellent source of vitamins C and K, manganese and dietary fiber.

Raspberries are among the highest fiber-containing foods with up to 20 percent fiber per total weight. They are a great source of vitamin C, B vitamins 1,2 and 3, manganese, magnesium, copper, iron and folic acid. They are also loaded with antioxidants including anthocyanins, ellagic acid, quercetin, gallic acid, cyanidins, pelargonidins, catechins, kaempferol and salicylic acid.

Strawberries are consumed by 94 percent of American households that consume red berries. One serving contains 85 milligrams of vitamin C and is also loaded with antioxidants, fiber, folate, manganese and potassium.

Berry Fact:California provides approximately 88 percent of the nations strawberries.



Cabbage

The different kinds of cabbage red, green and Savoy contain different patterns of glucosinolates so your broadest health benefits will come from adding all varieties to your diet. Savoy cabbage is a good source of sinigrin, which has shown unique cancer preventive properties with respect to bladder, colon and prostate cancer. While raw cabbage does have cholesterol-lowering ability, it does not have as much as steamed cabbage because the fiber-related components in cabbage do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when theyve been steamed.

Green cabbage is the most commonly eaten variety but red cabbage has added nutritional benefits and contains significantly more protective phytonutrients. Three ounces of raw red cabbage contains 196 milligrams of polyphenols of which 28 milligrams are anthocyanins. Three ounces of green cabbage has 45 milligrams of polyphenols and only .01 milligram of anthocyanins. Red cabbage also has eight times higher the amount of vitamin C than green cabbage and six to eight times more antioxidant capacity than green cabbage.

Cabbage Fact: Cabbage is one of the oldest vegetables and dates back to the 1600s.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower a member of the cruciferous family helps strengthen the immune system and protect against the development of cancer. It is an excellent source of folate and vitamin C as well as phytonutrients sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol (I3C) which help prevent cancer in two ways. They prevent enzymes from activating cancer-causing agents in the body, and they increase the body's production of enzymes that clean toxins and carcinogens out of the system before they can damage cells. IC3 is a particularly powerful anti-tumor agent, which reduces levels of hormones that may stimulate cellular changes in cells of the breasts and prostate.

Cauliflower Fact: Cauliflower is actually a flower that hasnt fully developed yet.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds - a member of the mint family - are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acid and an excellent source of fiber at 10 grams per ounce. They also contain protein and minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and phosphorus.

Chia Seeds Fact: Records indicate chia seeds were used as a food source as far back as 3500 B.C.

Grapefruit

A subtropical citrus tree known for its sour to semi-sweet fruit, grapefruit is an excellent source of many nutrients and phytochemicals that contribute to a healthy diet. It is a good source of vitamin C, contains the fiber pectin and the beneficial antioxidant lycopene. Studies have shown grapefruit helps lower cholesterol.Grapefruit also contains citric acid, natural sugars, and essential oils like limonene, pinene and citral. It has amounts of vitamin A, B complex, E and K, calcium, folate, phosphorus, and potassium.

Grapefruit Fact: Jamaicans coined the term grapefruit because the fruit grew in bunches like grapes.

Lemons

The lemon - a small evergreen tree native to Asia - is used for culinary and non-culinary purposes throughout the world, primarily for its juice, though the pulp and rind are also used in cooking and baking. Lemons can be sour or sweet depending on the variety. Lemons as well as limes - contain unique flavonoid compounds that have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. They have strong antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting powers and are used as a weight loss aid because lemon juice is a digestive aid and liver cleanser. Lemons also contain many substances--notably citric acid, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, bioflavonoids, pectin, and limonene - that promote immunity and fight infection.

Lemon Fact: The demand for lemons and their scurvy-preventing properties hit a peak during the California Gold Rush of 1849 and miners were willing to pay huge sums for a single lemon. As a result, lemon trees were planted in abundance throughout California.

Limes

Limes offer many health benefits and include vitamin C, vitamin B6, thiamin, folate, and pantothenic acid. Minerals include calcium, iron, phosphorous, potassium and copper. Among its benefits, limes help heal oral ulcers, relieve congestion and nausea, help prevent gout, aid in weight loss, protect eyes from aging and infection, help prevent heart disease and regulate sugar absorption in diabetic patients.

Lime Fact: Limes increase in weight after they are picked.

Oranges

One of the most popular fruits in the world, oranges contain only about 85 calories and have no fat, cholesterol or sodium. They are known for their vitamin C content and also have many essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals for normal growth, development and overall well-being. They contain a variety of phytochemicals, flavonoids, vitamin A, and flavonoid antioxidants such as alpha and beta-carotenes, beta-cryptoxanthin, zea-xanthin and lutein. They are a good source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, pyridoxine, and folates and have good amounts of minerals like potassium and calcium.

Orange Fact: Christopher Columbus brought the first orange seeds and seedlings to the New World on his second voyage in 1493.

Parsnips

The parsnip is a root vegetable closely related to the carrot and parsley. It is high in vitamins and minerals, especially potassium, and contains antioxidants and both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. Parsnips have potential health benefits and contain anti-oxidants such as falcarinol, falcarindiol, panaxydiol and methyl-falcarindiol, which have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. The high fiber content of parsnips may help prevent constipation and reduce blood cholesterol levels.

Parsnip Fact: The parsnip's unique flavor comes when its starches change to sugar. This happens after the first frost, when the vegetable is still in the ground.

So there you have it 10 superfoods that will not only provide you with lots of great flavors to complement meals and enjoy but will also provide nutritional benefits for a longer and healthier life.

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