Pumpkin isn’t on the menu for Thanksgiving because it's leftover from Halloween. Your favorite winter foods are filled with nutrients that are most effective at nourishing you when they’re in-season. There's a scientific reason you crave certain foods at specific times of year.
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Traditionally, changing seasons meant a change in the foods our ancestors had access to, says Nikki Ostrower, an integrative nutritionist and founder of NAO Wellness. "We still tend to eat the foods traditionally consumed during the season."
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Filled with potassium, iron, manganese, magnesium, vitamin B6, and folate, they're great for brain function, digestion, and circulation — all things that can slow down in the winter. Cooper adds that studies suggest they also reduce inflammation.
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Ostrower says this super veggie contains fiber, protein and Vitamins A and C. A benefit of a hearty serving (particularly if roasted), is that it's warming, fills you up, and keeps your blood sugar regulated so that your energy levels are steady through the day.
"Kale and cabbage freeze at a lower point and are more nutritionally hardy in the winter than other greens," Ostrower says. Swiss chard, mustard greens, and turnip greens also contain vitamin A, calcium and magnesium, supporting eye and bone health.
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If your favorite winter food isn't listed, that doesn't mean it's not valuable. An apple cider doughnut might not help fight a cold, but it might bring you joy, via feel-good brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin — and that's just as crucial as a nutrient-dense veggie roast.