5 Foods You Should Eat This Winter

Don't live on a steady diet of hot chocolate

Oatmeal with fruit

Chilly winter weather affects more than just your wardrobe and heating bill. Your body also experiences changes in energy levels, metabolism and even food preferences.

Do you react to bitter cold by skipping the gym and convincing yourself you deserve a calorie splurge to warm up and offset your discomfort? You’re not alone. But the cold truth is that no weather warrants unhealthy eating habits. Just as you shouldn’t overdo ice cream during the dog days of summer, you shouldn’t live on a steady diet of hot chocolate and warm cookies during winter.

Winterizing your diet can be healthy — and tasty — if you add a few favorite cold-weather foods. Start with these.

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  • Carrots

    Root vegetables

    Local produce can be hard to find when cold weather inhibits crop growth. But root vegetables like beets, carrots and turnips can withstand the cold, so local farmers can provide fresh produce — and you can reap the benefits. Roast carrots for a boost of beta-carotene, or boil turnips for vitamins C and A.

  • Oatmeal with fruit


    Oatmeal is much more than just a convenient breakfast food; it also provides nutrients that are essential during winter. Oatmeal is high in zinc (important for proper immune function) and soluble fiber (associated with heart health). Although instant oatmeal is more convenient, it is a bit more expensive. To eat healthy on a budget, go with old-fashioned oats.

  • Vegetable soup


    Soup is winter’s perfect food — as long as you hold the cream, salt and beef. Look for soup recipes that call for chicken broth, vegetable broth or water as the base and include a lot of vegetables. Pair your soup with a side of 100 percent whole grain crackers for a dose of grains. Don’t have any recipes handy? Try Cleveland Clinic’s tasty and healthy Collard and Lentil Soup.

  • Tuna

    Spicy tuna roll

    For a suprising alternative to typical comfort foods — often loaded with fat and sugar — try sushi. Choose rolls lined with tuna or salmon. Both are good sources of vitamin D. During the winter months, when you have limited exposure to the sun, food sources of the bone-healthy vitamin become even more essential. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with impaired growth, weakening of the bones and even the risk of heart disease.

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  • Broccoli

    Broccoli and cauliflower

    Aside from getting the flu shot and washing your hands regularly, these cruciferous vegetables may be your top defense against winter sickness. Broccoli and cauliflower are both high in vitamin C, which is associated with enhanced immune function. If you can’t find fresh versions, don’t fret — frozen broccoli and cauliflower are just as nutritious.

Contributor: Brigid Titgemeier, BA, nutrition assistant at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute

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Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD

Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian and wellness manager for the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.
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  • Dr Scott B Raphael

    Dr Caldwell Esstylstyn ( Who, of course, still has very strong ties to the Cleveland Clinic) would strongly disagree that tuna rolls would be a good choice to reduce the risk of heart disease

  • fusillijerry

    Thanks for giving me a list and not a slide show. This saves me time.

    • Johnny Dangerously

      Amen to that!

  • John Frank

    I’ve been on a low salt diet since having angioplasty in 2012, so I’ve stopped eating sushi completely because of salt concerns. Would you agree with that change? I’ve cut out a lot of other items as well and tracked down salt-free teriyaki sauce for cooking salmon teriyaki at home, you can read about my efforts on my blog http://nosaltnofatnosugar.com

    • alwaysthink

      The only added salt in sushi is in the soy sauce. So look for the low sodium version if you must have soy sauce with the sushi. An alternative is to use Japanese rice wine with a few drops of Chinese hot oil. No salt.

      Another yummy alternative is Citrus Ponzu sauce without soy sauce. A good Chinese supermarket will have a selection. Just read the labels.

  • Shanna Kinser

    I would say that a really good alternative to the sushi would be mushrooms. They are a very good source of D3. I have MS and have to take supplements to raise my D3 level into the normal range. Mushrooms are a staple in my diet. From salads to soups to sautes. Portabellas make a great steak alternative too.

  • Emily Smilor

    Not one single food that I don`t like. They are all great.

  • Jenny L Porter

    Cauliflower containing nicotine needs to come off this list FAST…The American Heart Association explains nicotine causing heart disease muscle spasms, blood vessel degeneration. heart blockages and heart attack.

  • Mehmet

    Thank you, Kristin!

  • Ashli

    umm why though how does it help u

  • Hazel Bungard

    Not about diet, but why do my fingernails have ridges on them? They come out at the top of my finger and grow the entire length of the nail. Some a smaller than others and some are quite high on nail. I was told it has to do with the organs in my body and the demands to function as such.