We are a bit spoilt in Australia as we can generally find most fruit and vegetables on the supermarket shelves at any time of the year. However, eating with the seasons whenever possible will mean your fruit and vegetables will be at their freshest, likely to be better quality and rich in flavour. With winter being just around the corner and the incidence of colds and flu set to increase we looked at ten winter fruits and vegetables that will help you and your family to keep colds and flu at bay.
1. Sweet potato - Brightly coloured sweet potato is rich in vitamin A, beta-carotene1 and also contains vitamin E.2 Beta-carotene is from a family of brightly coloured compounds found in fruit and vegetables.2 Beta-carotene and vitamin A are antioxidants, helping to protect our cells from free radical damage and helping to maintain healthy immune function. Vitamin E helps maintain a healthy immune system as well as supporting a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.
2. Green leafy vegetables – when you think of green leafy vegetables think of spinach, silver beet, cabbage, broccoli and kale as well as those delicious Asian greens such as bok choy, choy sum and baby pak choy. These types of vegetables are absolute super foods, chock full of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants that help to support our general health and immunity. They contain vitamin A, betacarotene, calcium, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin B2, vitamin B6 and vitamin C.1 While often not a favourite amongst fussy eaters most of these vegies can be chopped up and hidden in pretty much any meal!
3. Garlic – Simply adding a clove or two of garlic to your cooking during winter can help to boost your health. Garlic has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and a number of health benefits including supporting immune function, helping to relieve cold symptoms such as mucous congestion and coughs as well as helping to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
4. Beetroot – As well as being a great source of immune boosting vitamins A and C, these brightly coloured vegetables are full of anti-oxidants and are a source of iron.2 3 Not getting enough iron in our diet can reduce our general health and wellbeing and may affect the functioning of our immune system.
5. Pumpkin – Pumpkin is another bright orange vegetable that has to go on the list because who doesn’t love a bowl of warm pumpkin soup during the colder months, yum! Not only does it taste good but pumpkin soup can help to keep us healthy as well. Pumpkins are another great source of vitamin A and beta-carotene1, those wonderful immune boosting nutrients. In addition to this, dried pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas) are a vey rich source of zinc.2 Not getting enough zinc in our diet can impair our immune function. Zinc can also help to reduce the severity and duration of a cold.