Monday, February 6, 2012

Best Foods for the Winter

This is from an article titled "The 6 Best Foods for Winter" by David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding on Yahoo! Health

It’s the first snow of the season, and it’s so heavy and wet that it clogs your snowblower. You have two choices. Option 1: Shove your arm between the augers and remove the blockage. The downside: You’ll lose your arm in the process, and having it reattached will probably bankrupt you. Option 2: Turn off the machine, grab a broom stick, and chip at the blockage until it crumbles.

You might be thinking, “What kind of lunatic would choose option 1?” Well, lunatics like the American people. The U.S. spends more than $2 trillion on health care each year, with much of that cash going toward the treatment of obesity-related complications like heart disease and diabetes. We’re fixing our health problems retroactively, with medication and surgery, even though we could prevent most of them by making smarter choices about what we eat.

There’s no better time to put this notion to the test than the winter months. Winter is not necessarily conducive to good health; the season conjures up images of calorie-loaded comfort foods, fireside naps, and runny noses. Read on for six everyday foods that will keep you healthy and strong from December to March and beyond, compliments of the all-new Eat This, Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide, which includes thousands of smart swaps that can help you shave 20 pounds or more in just 6 weeks.

Best Winter Food #1: Oatmeal

What it does: Helps you avoid the winter blues

Why it works: Sunlight signals your body to produce the feel-good hormone serotonin, so winter’s short, dark days may leave you in a less-than-cheery mood. If the doldrums persist, you may even find yourself suffering a serious form of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). But don’t let Jack Frost get you down: Whole grain carbs like oatmeal can give your winter mood a much-needed boost. In a MIT study, researchers found that eating plenty of carbohydrates keeps serotonin levels up and can even prevent cravings for sweets. Refined carbs like doughnuts and white bread can be tempting winter comforts, but these foods will cause your blood sugar to quickly spike then plummet, leaving you in worse spirits than you were before. To stay happy and healthy, opt for whole grains instead.

Best Winter Food #2: Walnuts

What it does: Keeps your skin from drying out

Why it works: The winter months bring drier air (blame frigid winds and indoor heating), which can suck the moisture out of your skin, leaving it dull, tight, and itchy. Applying moisturizer can help, but the omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like walnuts will combat your dry-skin problem from the inside. Omega-3s help maintain healthy cell membranes, including those found in your skin. When your skin cells are strong they are better able to retain moisture, helping your skin avoid a reptilian fate.

MyAchingKnees tip: Try Walnuts in Steel Cut Oats. You can sweeten with lite Brown Sugar or Honey.

Best Winter Food #3: Garlic

What it does: Wards off cold and flu viruses (and vampires)

Why it works: British researchers recently discovered that garlic may prevent you from getting sick. In the 12-week study of 164 healthy adults, the group of participants that received a garlic supplement reported only 24 colds, while the group that received a placebo reported 64 colds. One explanation is a chemical in garlic called allicin, which may stimulate the production of infection-fighting white blood cells. Whatever the reason, adding garlic to your meals may help you stay above the weather. Just don’t eat too much—you want to keep disease at bay, not your friends and family.

MyAchingKnees tip: Garlic is a natural fly and mosquito repellent as well.

Best Winter Food #4: Winter squash

What it does: Prevents weight gain

Why it works: A 2006 Bastyr University study found that participants who routinely ate more fiber than the national average of about 14 grams per day were less likely to be overweight than those who consumed less than 14 grams. Fiber-rich foods, like squash, contain relatively low calories, and they’re digested more slowly, keeping you full long after you eat them—an important defense against the season of overindulgence otherwise known as winter. With about 9 grams of fiber per one-cup serving, eating winter squash (like acorn and butternut varieties) is a great way to load up on fiber and prevent post-holiday eaters remorse. Winter squash is also loaded with carotenes, which have been shown to reduce the risk of a variety of diseases from cancer to heart disease. Most winter squash is available year-round, but its peak season is early fall through late winter.

MyAchingKnees tip: A great way to cook squash is to slice it up, lightly coat in virgin olive oil, toss with your favorite seasoning mix, then cook on the grill in a deep dish pan.

Best Winter Food #5: Chicken Sandwich

What it does: Keeps your energy up

Why it works: Darkness signals your body to produce melatonin, the hormone responsible for making you sleepy, so the shorter days that come along with winter can cause you to feel like hitting the sack instead of the gym. But eating complex carbohydrates—most abundant in whole grains, starchy vegetables, and legumes—along with some protein can help you stay awake and energized. This combination, found in foods like a chicken sandwich on wheat bread, boosts energy in two ways: Your body digests the complex carbs slowly, keeping your blood sugar stable, and the protein helps you stay fuller, longer.

MyAchingKnees tip: Not a big Chicken fan, but I recently found thing chicken breasts at my grocery store. Easy and quick to grill and make a sandwich of. A Chipotle glaze adds a great deal of flavor. You can cut up the chicken and use in a salad as well.

Best Winter Food #6: Chicken Soup

What it does: Helps you breathe easy

Why it works: Chicken soup has long been touted at the best home remedy for cold and flu season, and it really can help. Hot liquids temporarily clear your sinuses, and a University of Nebraska study found that chicken soup may even reduce inflammation in your nose and throat. Plus, most chicken soups are low in calories and saturated fat, and high in fiber. For the healthiest version, try making the soup yourself with plenty of veggies and whole wheat noodles. If homemade isn’t an option, try Campbell ’s Healthy request Condensed Chicken Noodle soup, which has only 60 calories per cup. And remember, chicken soup may keep the doctor away, but some chicken-based meals could send you straight into the waiting room.

MyAchingKnees comment: I really like this article since it starts off warning us about that "The U.S. spends more than $2 trillion on health care each year, with much of that cash going toward the treatment of obesity-related complications like heart disease and diabetes". Obesity and heart related problems are symptoms of poor nutrition. Other indicators that the resulting inflammation is causing other problems for you too, are joint pain, lethargy, high cholesterol, back pain and a host of other problems.

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