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While you’re bundled up at home as the temperatures dance around the freezing point outside, there are a number of delicious and healthy foods and drinks that can contribute to your body’s warmth.
Foods that we typically associate with fall and winter can increase your metabolism when the days are shorter, it’s cold outside and you might be less active, according to certified integrative nutrition counselor and Profeta Farms co-owner Joanne Malino.
“It’s actually more natural and healthy to eat warming seasonal foods in the wintertime,” Malino said.
“It’s kind of what our bodies are pre-programmed to do well with,” she added.
Experts recommend eating a diet high in protein and fat during the colder months.
When you consume certain foods and drinks, they help the body generate heat as it works to digest them.
“The biggest thing is the difference [between] your internal body temperature versus the temperature of the food you’re bringing in,” said Paul Salter, a registered dietitian and nutrition editor for BodyBuilding.com.
If there is a large enough difference, Salter said, not only will your body’s internal temperature elevate slightly, but your body will also work hard to adjust its temperature to ensure the food is properly handled, absorbed and digested.
One benefit of healthy warming foods is that you can easily store them in the kitchen, which eliminates the need for shopping just before your meal preparation, Malino said.
Try these foods and drinks to keep nice and warm during colder weather.
Vegetables and fruits
Choosing foods which are high in vitamins A and C will benefit your skin, boost your immune system and help ward off colds.
Vegetables that contain a high amount of both vitamins include sweet potatoes, carrots, kale and cabbage, Malino said.
Sweet potatoes, which are already delicious on their own, can be enhanced with cinnamon as they bake in the oven for a great warming food.
Malino also recommended baked apples and pears, which are part of the fall harvest and also high in fiber and vitamin C.
“Baked squash is great,” Malino said. “It’s really easy, you just put it in [the oven] and leave it there for an hour.”
Spices and seasonings
Some seasonings and spices can also help increase your body temperature and stimulate your metabolism.
They include cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, horseradish and chili peppers.
“Those are anti-inflammatory and are really healthy,” Malino said.
Research shows that the compound capsaicin, which contributes to a chili pepper’s spiciness, can also induce thermogenesis, the process by which cells convert energy into heat.
“Ginger and turmeric also help your body break down fat, so they’re great to go along with a winter diet,” she said.
Ginger can work to warm you up both inside and out.
In addition to consuming it, try adding a small amount of ginger to a bath for a warming effect. This can also provide cold and flu relief and relax your muscles.
Many herbs and spices can make great warming teas, including jasmine, fennel seeds, spearmint and Goji berry.
Try drinking cinnamon tea or a tea made of turmeric and honey. Adding a pinch of black pepper will help you better absorb the turmeric.
It’s common knowledge that coffee and hot chocolate also work well, but Salter recommends choosing a healthier recipe if you drink hot chocolate regularly.
“If you’re going to make it a frequent indulgence, then you should at least look for a recipe or learn to make your own that includes at least a boost in protein, so that it’s not just a very high-sugar drink,” Salter said.
Whey protein powder or cow’s milk will add protein, making hot chocolate a more nutritious option, Salter added.
A slow cooker can come in handy if you’re especially busy. They can be used to prepare a variety of flavorful soups and stews that can be ready for you after a long day.
“Not only do you get to take the ‘set it and forget it’ approach, but all the food comes out perfectly cooked and is very warm,” Salter said.
For more safety and preparedness tips, visit AccuWeather.com/Ready.
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