Tulsi and Ginger
A simple cup of tea with a dash of tulsi and ginger is one of the best foods to have this winter. This concoction instantly warms you up and gives you the much-needed comfort in winter. Tulsi and ginger tea is known to cure respiratory issues like cold and cough. It can even help with issues like bronchitis and asthma. It helps keep your skin and hair healthy and soft during harsh winters. Older adults with arthritis experience more pain in their joints during winters. Tulsi and ginger tea helps relieve this pain as well.
More popularly known as gud/gur, jaggery is basically unrefined sugar. It is used extensively all over India for making sweets and many prefer to chew on a bit of jaggery after dinner as well. It is much better than white sugar and has a number of health benefits. It aids digestion and helps to flush out toxins from our body. Jaggery does not contain empty calories like white sugar, so it is used as an energy food. Older adults with lower haemoglobin levels can consume raw peanuts with jaggery to increase their RBC count. However, if you have diabetes, you need to consume jaggery in moderation.
Sesame/Til is the ultimate “hot” food. It is widely used in various forms of sweets and savouries all over India in winter. Sesame helps keep your body warm and cures respiratory disorders like bronchitis, asthma, and pneumonia. Sesame paste applied on hair in winters removes dandruff. Til laddoos are very popular in western parts of India. Til oil is also extensively used for cooking.
Ghee has been a staple of the Indian diet and has been mentioned in Ayurveda as well. While doctors do not recommend most forms of butter, clarified butter or ghee can be used in moderation even by older adults. It is a must in winters to provide much-needed heat to your body. It also moisturizes your skin and hair in winters and has a concentration of heart-healthy Omega-3s fats.
Honey, especially the pure version, comes with a lot of health benefits. It is one of the most preferred foods in India in winter. You can find a bottle of honey in almost all Indian kitchens. Many Indians use honey as a substitute for sugar or simply as a side dish to rotis. Honey is a cough suppressant and is widely used in cough drops. It also reduces throat irritation and helps older adults sleep better in winters. It is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal in nature.
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Dry fruits are very useful in keeping your body warm in winters. Dry fruits like almonds (badam), walnuts (akhrot), raisins (munakka/kishmish) and pistachios (pista) give out heat slowly throughout the day and keep you warm. Dry fruits and nuts are also good for health and can be added to other dishes like kheer and halwa or even porridges (oats or dalia) at breakfast, or can be had as is, or with milk in powdered form. Dates (khajoor), apricots and dried figs (anjeer) are preferred in winters and act as natural sweeteners as well.
Saffron or kesar is much in demand all over India as it is known to enhance your beauty and health. It can be consumed mixed with milk or sweets. Saffron increases your body’s immunity. It can also be mixed with cream and applied on the face to make skin fresh and glowing. In winters, boil a pinch of saffron with raisins, almonds, and milk and have it every night before sleep. It aids good sleep and keeps you warm during wintry nights.
Mustard is used in various forms all over India as it is known for its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. In winters, it is recommended to cook food in mustard oil as it improves the metabolism rate of the body. Sarson ka saag is a popular dish in North India made during winters using mustard leaves. In the South, mustard seeds are included in almost all dishes. Mustard is rich in magnesium, zinc, manganese, calcium and Omega-3s fatty acids. It is good for skin and hair. Mustard oil can be applied to the body for smooth and healthy skin. It also acts as a decongestant when applied on the chest, throat, and feet.
Ashwagandha is a popular Ayurvedic ingredient that improves immunity and provides warmth in winters. It is especially recommended to older adults as it helps them sleep and prevents water retention in the body.
Pepper is an age-old food that has antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Almost all Indian homes have pepper in their kitchen. Pepper can be used to concoct teas or soups or even pulaos to ease respiratory issues like cold, cough and sinusitis. It also helps keep the body warm in winters. Pepper also relieves joint pain for older adults with arthritis and improves metabolism.
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Garlic is very well-known for its ability to fight against the stubborn common cold. It also improves the functioning of the heart in winters. Garlic controls blood pressure and ensures proper blood flow. Along with ensuring good heart health, it keeps the body warm and energetic in winters.
Amla, commonly available in winters, is one of the richest sources of vitamin C. Amla is good for the liver, skin, and hair, aids digestion and controls acidity, blood sugar, and cholesterol. The most common forms of amla consumption in India are Chyavanprash (a mixture of candied grated amla), achar (pickle made using amla, fresh haldi/turmeric, and carrots), chutneys, murabba (amla cooked in sugar or jaggery syrup) and amla powder. Intake of amla every day during winters improves immunity in older adults.
Whole Grains and Pulses
Bajra (Pearl Millet), Jowar (Millet), Makkai (Maize/Corn) and Jau (Barley) are some of the whole grains you can use to make rotis or dosas. These grains have high heat value and are good for health as well. Pulses like Moong Dal and Masoor Dal are good for winters as they aid digestion. Perfect for consumption in chilly winters!
Root Vegetables and Green Leafy Vegetables
Root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, onions, beetroot, radish, and sweet potatoes and green leafy vegetables like spring onions, spinach green beans, and amaranth are recommended in winters. These foods are rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C. These are versatile vegetables and can be added to other vegetables or can be made into soups as well.
Fenugreek is regularly used in Indian households for treating a variety of ailments including cough and cold. Fenugreek seeds are used in dosa batter, methi greens can be cooked and served as an accompaniment to rotis, methi dal, methi poori, and methi paratha are very common in almost all Indian homes. Fenugreek improves metabolism during winters and controls blood sugar levels. It also keeps your skin soft and healthy. Methi is known to reduce muscle pain and maintain liver and kidney health.
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