Eating in season is very easy in the spring and summer, but it can be a challenge when the cold weather begins.
However, some vegetables can survive the cold, even under a blanket of snow. These are known as winter vegetables, due to their ability to withstand cold and severe weather.
These cold-resistant varieties can withstand freezing temperatures due to the greater amount of sugar they contain (1).
The sugar found in the water of winter vegetables causes them to freeze at a lower point, allowing them to survive in cold weather.
In addition, this process makes cold-resistant vegetables become sweeter in the colder months, which makes winter the optimum time for harvest (2).
This article discusses 10 of the healthiest winter vegetables and why you should include them in your diet.
This leafy green is not only one of the healthiest vegetables, but also thrives in a cooler climate.
It is a member of the family of cruciferous vegetables, which includes cold tolerant plants such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage and turnips.
Although kale can be harvested year-round, it prefers colder weather and can even withstand snow conditions (3).
Kale is also an exceptionally nutritious and versatile green. It is full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and powerful plant compounds.
In fact, only one cup (67 grams) of kale contains the recommended daily intake of vitamins A, C and K. It is also rich in B vitamins, calcium, copper, manganese, potassium and magnesium (4).
In addition, kale is loaded with flavonoid antioxidants such as quercetin and kaempferol that have powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
Some studies suggest that a diet high in flavonoids may help reduce the risk of certain cancers such as lung and esophagus cancer (5, 6, 7).
Summary Kale is a cold-leafy green vegetable that contains an impressive amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
2. Brussels Sprouts
Like kale, Brussels sprouts are a member of the family of cruciferous vegetables rich in nutrients.
The mini cabbage heads of the Brussels sprouts plant develop during the months of cold weather. They can stand in freezing temperatures, which makes them a must for seasonal winter dishes.
Although small, Brussels sprouts contain an impressive amount of nutrients.
They are an excellent source of vitamin K. One cup (156 grams) of cooked Brussels sprouts contains 137% of your recommended daily intake (8).
Vitamin K is essential for bone and heart health and is important for brain function (9, 10).
Brussels sprouts are also a great source of vitamins A, B and C and the minerals manganese and potassium.
In addition, Brussels sprouts are high in fiber and alpha lipoic acid, and both have been shown to help keep blood sugar levels stable (11, 12).
Fiber slows down the digestive process in the body, resulting in a slower release of glucose into the bloodstream. This means that there are fewer peaks in blood sugar after consuming a high-fiber meal (13).
Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant that can reduce high blood sugar levels and increase the body's sensitivity to insulin (14).
Insulin is a necessary hormone for cells to absorb sugar in the blood. Prevents blood sugar levels from becoming too high or too low.
It has also been shown that alpha lipoic acid reduces the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, a painful type of nerve damage that affects many people with diabetes (15).
Summary Brussels sprouts are full of nutrients and are especially rich in vitamin K. They have a high content of alpha lipoic acid, an antioxidant that can benefit people with diabetes.
This popular root vegetable can be harvested in the summer months, but reaches its peak of sweetness in autumn and winter.
The cold conditions cause the carrots to convert stored starches into sugars to prevent the water in their cells from freezing.
This makes the carrots taste sweeter in a cooler climate. In fact, carrots harvested after a frost are often called "sweet carrots."
This crispy vegetable is also highly nutritious. Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, which can be converted into vitamin A in the body. One large carrot (72 grams) contains 241% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A (16).
Vitamin A is essential for eye health and is also important for proper immune function and growth and development.
In addition, carrots are loaded with carotenoid antioxidants. These potent vegetable pigments give carrots their bright color and can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Some studies suggest that a diet rich in carotenoids may particularly help reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as prostate and breast cancer (17, 18).
Summary Carrots thrive in colder weather. They are full of vitamin A and powerful antioxidants that can help protect against certain diseases such as prostate and breast cancer.
4. Swiss Chard
Swiss Chard is not only tolerant of cold weather, but also very low in calories and rich in nutrients.
In fact, one cup (36 grams) provides only 7 calories, but contains almost half the recommended daily amount of vitamin A and meets the recommended daily intake of vitamin K.
It is also a good source of vitamin C, magnesium and manganese (19).
In addition, the dark green leaves and brightly colored stems of Swiss chard are filled with beneficial plant pigments called betalains.
It has been shown that betalains reduce inflammation in the body and decrease the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, one of the main causes of heart disease (20, 21).
This green is widely used in the Mediterranean diet, which has been linked to numerous health benefits, including a reduction in heart disease (22).
Summary Swiss chard is very low in calories but is full of vitamins and minerals. It also contains antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Similar in appearance to carrots, parsnips are another type of root vegetable with a lot of unique health benefits.
Like carrots, parsnips become sweeter as cold temperatures settle, making them a delicious addition to winter dishes. They have a slightly earthy taste and are highly nutritious.
One cup (156 grams) of cooked parsnips contains almost 6 grams of fiber and 34% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C.
In addition, parsnips are an excellent source of vitamins B and E, potassium, magnesium and manganese (23).
The high fiber content of the parsnips also makes them an excellent option for digestive health. They are especially high in soluble fiber, which forms a substance similar to a gel in the digestive system.
This can help to decrease the absorption of sugars in the bloodstream, which is especially useful for people with diabetes (24).
Soluble fiber has also been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, breast cancer and stroke (25, 26, 27).
Summary Parsnips are highly nutritious root vegetables that contain an impressive amount of soluble fiber, which has been linked to many health benefits.
6. Collard Greens
Like kale and Brussels sprouts, cabbages belong to the Brassica Family of vegetables Not to mention that it is also one of the most resistant plants to the cold of the group.
This slightly bitter green can withstand prolonged freezing temperatures and tastes better after being exposed to frost.
The bitterness of the cabbages is associated with the high amount of calcium found in the plant. In fact, one study found that vegetables with the highest calcium content had the most bitter taste (28).
The amount of calcium in the cabbages is impressive, since one cup (190 grams) of cooked cabbage contains 27% of the recommended daily intake (29).
Calcium is essential for bone health, muscle contraction and nerve transmission, along with other important functions.
In addition, these vegetables are loaded with vitamin K, which plays a key role in bone health.
Studies show that an adequate intake of vitamin K and calcium helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures (30, 31).
Besides being an excellent option to promote healthy and strong bones, cabbages are a good source of vitamins B and C, iron, magnesium and manganese.
Summary The cabbages have a slightly bitter taste and are full of nutrients. They are especially high in calcium and vitamin K, which are important for healthy bones.
Rutabagas are an underestimated vegetable despite its impressive nutrient content.
These root vegetables grow best in cold weather and develop a sweeter flavor as temperatures get colder in autumn and winter.
All parts of the rutabagas plant can be eaten, including leaves of green leaves that stick out from the ground.
One cup of cooked kohlrabi (170 grams) contains more than half the recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 16% of the recommended daily intake of potassium (32).
Potassium is crucial for cardiac function and muscle contraction. It also plays a key role in controlling blood pressure.
In fact, studies have shown that a diet rich in potassium can help reduce high blood pressure (33).
In addition, observational studies have linked cruciferous vegetables such as rutabagas with a lower risk of heart disease. In fact, one study found that eating more cruciferous vegetables could reduce the risk of developing heart disease by up to 15.8% (34).
In addition to being an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium, rutabagas are a good source of B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese.
Summary Rutabagas are root vegetables that are rich in vitamin C and potassium. Increasing your potassium intake can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
8. Red cabbage
Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable that thrives in a cool climate. While both green and red cabbage are extremely healthy, the red variety has a higher nutrient profile.
One cup of raw red cabbage (89 grams) contains 85% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C and high amounts of vitamins A and K.
It is also a good source of B vitamins, manganese and potassium (35).
However, where red cabbage really shines is in its antioxidant content. The bright color of this vegetable comes from pigments called anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins belong to the flavonoid family of antioxidants, which have been linked to a series of health benefits.
One of these benefits is the potential to reduce the risk of heart disease (36).
In a study of 93,600 women, the researchers found that women with a higher intake of anthocyanin-rich foods were up to 32% less likely to have heart attacks than women who consumed fewer foods rich in anthocyanins (37).
In addition, it has been found that a high intake of anthocyanins reduces the risk of coronary heart disease (38).
Additional evidence from test tube and animal studies suggests that anthocyanins may also have cancer-fighting abilities (39, 40).
Summary Red cabbage contains many nutrients, such as vitamins A, C and K. It also contains anthocyanins, which can protect against heart disease and certain types of cancer.
These jewel-toned vegetables are known for their spicy flavor and crunchy texture. In addition, some varieties are very resistant to cold and can survive in freezing temperatures.
Radishes are rich in vitamins B and C, as well as in potassium (41).
Its pungent taste is attributed to a special group of sulfur-containing compounds called isothiocyanates, which have been linked to many health benefits.
These powerful plant compounds act as antioxidants in the body, helping to keep inflammation under control.
Radishes have been extensively investigated for their possible properties to fight cancer (42).
In fact, a test tube study found that radish extract rich in isothiocyanate inhibited the growth of human breast cancer cells (43).
This effect has also been observed in test tube studies and in animals with colon and bladder cancer cells (44, 45).
Although promising, more human studies are needed on the potential anticancer capabilities of radishes.
Summary Radishes are an excellent source of vitamins B and C, as well as potassium. In addition, they contain isothiocyanates, which may have abilities to fight cancer.
While many herbs are extinguished when the weather turns cold, parsley can continue to grow through cold temperatures and even snow.
In addition to being exceptionally cold-resistant, this aromatic green is full of nutrition.
Only one ounce (28 grams) meets the recommended daily intake of vitamin K and contains more than half of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C.
It is also loaded with vitamin A, folic acid, iron, calcium and potassium (46).
Parsley is an excellent source of flavonoids, such as apigenin and luteolin, which are plant compounds that have many potential health benefits. These flavonoids can be particularly useful for inhibiting memory loss and age-related changes in the brain.
One study found that a diet rich in luteolin reduced age-related inflammation in the brains of aged mice and improved memory by inhibiting inflammatory compounds (47).
Summary Parsley is a green tolerant to cold that is rich in nutrients. It also contains the luteolin plant compound, which can promote brain health.
The bottom line
There are several vegetables that thrive in colder weather.
Certain types of vegetables, such as carrots and parsnips, even acquire a sweeter taste after being exposed to frost.
These cold-resistant vegetables make it possible to complete your diet with seasonal products full of nutrients throughout the winter.
While any vegetable on this list would be a very nutritious supplement to your diet, there are many other winter vegetables that are also excellent choices.
After all, adding any fresh product to your diet will go a long way in promoting your health.
Reference: https: //www.healthline.com/nutrition/healthiest-winter-vegetables