4 reasons why you should eat seasonal foods?
Updated: Jul 31
The concept of “ritucharya” breaks down what to eat during each season to maintain health and prevent disease. Although the seasons and foods included are specific to the Indian subcontinent, the philosophy still applies no matter where you live. Besides, nutritionally speaking, the health benefits you can gain by eating in season, seasonal foods typically taste better. Plus, foods that are produced in season are better for the environment and easier on your wallet.
1. It's better for your health.
Foods that are grown and consumed during their appropriate seasons are more nutritionally dense. For example, it was found that broccoli grown during its peak season (fall) had a higher vitamin C content than broccoli grown during the spring. When foods are grown out of season, they aren't able to follow their natural growing and ripening rhythms. In order for certain fruits and vegetables to be available year-round, post-harvest treatments, known as ripening agents, are used. These include chemicals, gases, and heat processes. Some produce is also coated with an edible film to protect it.
These processes allow foods to be produced in mass quantities by slowing the maturation and ripening process. They also help to protect the produce from bacteria and other pathogens on their long journey from the fields to your local grocery store.
While this process ensures that farmers can meet consumer demand year-round, researchers have found that artificially ripened produce is often not as nutritious or tasty as naturally ripened produce.
2. It tastes better.
Mass-produced produce intended to meet global consumer demand tends to suffer from a lack of flavour. The goal of large commercial farms is to produce a volume of "product" to meet the high demand. Unfortunately, quantity and appearance override taste. Naturally ripened fruits and vegetables are grown and picked in season are typically full of flavour and nutrients.
3. It's better for the environment.
Sticking to local produce can be a great way to help discover what is in season near you. And this combination of seasonal plus local is better for the environment. Most of us give little thought to the effects of this long-distance travel on not only the nutritional value of our food and the costs but also the environmental impact, including fuel emissions.
Consider buying locally grown produce. This is a great way to eat with the seasons. Plus, these foods don't have to travel nearly as far, so the associated fuel emissions and transportation costs are minimal. Added bonus: Buying local helps support your local farmers.
4. It's cheaper.
When a fruit or veggie is in season, it's abundant and, not surprisingly, it's available at a lower price. For example, summer is berry season, so that's why strawberries and other berries are so cheap during the summer.
Following is a list of a few common winter foods recommended for you.
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 fibre (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.
Broccoli and cauliflower
Aside from getting the flu shot and washing your hands regularly, these cruciferous vegetables maybe your top defence 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.
Each gram of jaggery gives four calories, thereby producing heat in the body. During winters the blood vessels get constricted due to cold weather and jaggery is responsible for dilating the blood vessels and further improves blood flow, thus causing the body to heat up.
There is a reason why eggs are termed as a 'superfood.' Eggs are in huge demand during winters. They are a powerhouse of energy and are also rich in proteins and vitamins which help in keeping the body warm.
Most of you must be aware of the fact that Tulsi has medicinal properties. It is rich in vitamin C, A, zinc and iron which helps the body to fight cold borne diseases like cold, cough, sinus and other respiratory problems. Having raw Tulsi leaves can boost your immunity and keep your body warm during the cold weather.
Dry fruits like almonds, cashew and raisins generate heat in the body. They also help in curing Anaemia and other diseases that are caused due to the deficiency of iron and vitamins. All you have to do is eat them raw or include them in your salad or milk.
You must have noticed that during winters your mother puts ghee on your rotis. Well, she does that for a reason. Desi ghee is the most easily digestible fat which gives the body the much-needed warmth. That's not all. Ghee aids in digestion prevents constipation, increases immunity and protects the body against cold and flu. You can add a few drops of ghee in your dal and sabzi or you could cook your food in ghee.
Ginger has thermogenic properties that help in keeping you warm during winters. It also aids in boosting metabolism and promoting blood flow. Brew yourself a hot cup of ginger tea in the morning and you are good to go.
Chikki is an Indian sweet dish which is popular during winters. Do you know what chikkis are made of? Well, chikkis are made of sesame seeds which are good for keeping the body warm and cosy during winters. These seeds are also loaded with iron and calcium content which strengthen the bones and muscles. You can soak some sesame seeds overnight and have them in the morning or you could make small balls of jaggery and sesame seeds and have one every morning to keep yourself energised and warm. You can also use sesame seed oil for cooking to maintain your body temperature.
Honey is warm in nature and its regular intake helps in keeping the body warm, too. This is one of the reasons why the excessive intake of honey during summers is not advised. Honey is also good for keeping cold, cough and flu at bay as it strengthens the immune system. So sip on some honey in hot water or have a spoon of honey daily, first thing in the morning to keep yourself warm.