Winter is the season to indulge in comfort foods. It’s the season for hot chocolate, warm soups, and chili with beans. Winter is also a great time to enjoy seasonal vegetables such as carrots, beets, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, parsnips, and kale.
Curiously, though, when winter hits, we rarely turn to fruits. It is summer that is associated with fresh fruits, after all. When you look closely, however, you'll realize that winter offers a tremendous variety of fruits. Additionally, you may only find these winter fruits in your grocery store for a few months of the year.
Winter fruit availability varies by area and is influenced by local temperature, as well as farming practices like greenhouse and hoop house utilization. In colder climates, these techniques aid crop growth. Bananas, coconuts, and avocados are just a few year-round crops that may be grown in tropical areas near the equator. The variety of fruits available in North America is somewhat more constrained at the height of winter. Nevertheless, there are still a number of worthwhile alternatives available.
Related: The Comprehensive Guide to Seasonal Fruits & Vegetables
When it comes to staying healthy in winter, fruits are immensely helpful. Including fruits in your diet helps support your immune system, increases your fiber intake, and packs your body with disease-fighting antioxidants.
Keeping your immunity strong is essential to fighting the bitterly cold winter months. Health experts say that vitamin C is the most effective nutrient for fighting colds and illnesses and citrus fruits are replete with it. Fortunately, winter is the prime time for citrus fruits in North America, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Related: Vitamin C Cannot Prevent Colds, But It Can Do So Much More
Vitamin C supports the body's production of white blood cells that fight external invaders like viruses and bacteria, Harvard Health Publishing notes. Vitamin C may not prevent you from getting a cold, but it can definitely reduce the length and severity of your illness.
While vitamin C-rich citrus fruits are a winter must-try, they're not the only nutritious fruits available during the season. In a previous article, we discussed some superfoods you should eat in the winter season, which included fruits like oranges and pomegranates. Here are a few more.
Native to China, persimmons are now grown in several places throughout the world. California, for example, has a small harvest of these delicious fruits each winter. You’ll also find them in the "exotic fruit" section of the supermarket everywhere else in the United States during the winter months.
Persimmon is a rich source of vitamin A, with 138 micrograms (mcg) in one fruit. Research suggests that vitamin A can improve immune function and aid in defending the body against infectious infections, among other things.
Eating a single persimmon fruit will take care of 18% of your daily value of vitamin C, making it a worthy addition to the healthy winter fruits list.
Apart from being a holiday dinner staple, cranberries are a holiday dinner staple. These antioxidant- and nutrient-rich red winter berries are also beneficial for preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs) and certain cancers. Research has shown that cranberries can help lower the risk of developing coronary artery disease and reduce cholesterol levels as well. Additionally, they’re a good source of vitamin C, with 14 mg in 1 cup of whole, raw cranberries. Sprinkle some in your morning salad to start your day on a healthy note.
Many types of common pears are available year-round in supermarkets. However, late fall and winter pears are so much sweeter and mellower. They’re also super healthy, with one medium pear packing 5.5 g of fiber. Having fiber in your diet fuels the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut, making this nutrient crucial for the health of your immune system. Additionally, fiber contributes to a feeling of fullness after a meal, which prevents overeating. The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 14 g of fiber for every 1,000 calories eaten.
Here's another reason to eat more pears during winter: studies have shown that fibrous foods, such as pears, can help sustain a healthy weight.
The delicious, tangy, green kiwi, which originated in China and is now grown in tropical regions throughout the world, is also loaded with a surprising amount of vitamin C. One kiwi fruit contains 56 mg of vitamin C, and a cup of sliced, green kiwis gives you 167 mg of vitamin C. Not many know that kiwis contain almost three times the amount of vitamin C found in oranges and strawberries. Plus, it provides a healthy amount of vitamin K in addition to potassium and vitamin E.
Kiwis are available in abundance during the winter season. Consume them daily to boost your vitamin C intake and strengthen your immunity. Did we mention that you should eat the brown and fuzzy skin of a kiwi too? Research indicates that eating the skin of a kiwi can increase its fiber content by 50% and raise its vitamin E concentration by 34%!
Related: Guide: Reap the Health Benefits of These Common Fruits
Grapefruit, like other citrus fruits, is normally available all year, although its peak season is from late fall to early spring. This sweet, tangy, juicy fruit is grown in the U.S. primarily in California, Texas, Florida, and Arizona. Grapefruit is another terrific source of vitamin C, with one medium-sized fruit containing 98% of your daily value for vitamin C as well as 79% of your daily value for vitamin A. It also contains lycopene, which has antioxidant properties and may play a role in reducing the risk of certain types of cancer, most notably prostate cancer, research suggests.
Winter melon, or ash gourd, is a mild-tasting oblong fruit that's native to South and Southeast Asia but is also available in the USA. A 100-g portion of raw ash winter melon offers 14% of your daily value for vitamin C along with 3 g of fiber.
Winter melon is also rich in flavonoids and carotenes, two antioxidants that may help protect your body from cell damage and conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Related: 8 Delectably Creamy Fruits That Taste Like Dessert
Kumquats, which resemble tiny, oblong oranges, are tangy citrus fruits with a sweet-tart flavor. Native to Asia, these delightful small fruits were eventually cultivated in North America and are most widely grown in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, and California.
Sometimes called “Winter Citrus,” this fruit is chock-full of vitamin C and dietary fiber. A 100-g serving of kumquats contains 73% of your Recommended Dietary Intake of vitamin C and 6.5 g of fiber. Kumquats are also cholesterol-free and low in fat and sodium. Additionally, this winter citrus fruit is high in water, making it a weight-loss-friendly food.
During the winter months, kumquats are among the most affordable, fresh, and readily available fruits. Head over to your nearest grocery store and try them today!
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