When the weather gets cold, we feel the need for warm and rich food.
We tend to eat soups, pureed soups, but what’s more appropriate for this season?
Some of the vegetables we can find in this season are: radicchio, broccoli, thistles, artichokes and Jerusalem artichokes.
This plant is native to Mediterranean areas and it is used both as a food product, in the varieties of cardoon and artichoke, and in phytotherapy (wild cardoon or milk thistle).
Contrary to other vegetables, frost is fundamental for thistle, in fact, after a frost, this vegetable becomes more tender. Its taste is similar to the bitterness of the artichoke.
The wild one is also used in extracts and herbal teas, edible thistle is known for its depurative virtues, in particular as a tonic for the liver, thanks to the presence of a substance known as silybin which helps to eliminate toxins accumulated in the body.
Moreover, it also has laxative properties, being very rich in fibers. It also contains minerals, vitamins and antioxidant substances that help fight cellular aging.
Overall, we can say that this vegetable, typical of the winter season, has anti-cholesterol, digestive and fat burning properties.
Broccoli belong to the Cruciferous family, which also includes watercress, horseradish, radish, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, among others.
Broccoli are rich in minerals, especially calcium, iron, phosphor and potassium. They also contain Vitamin C (essential to prevent cardiovascular diseases and to strengthen our immune system), Vitamin B1 and B2, dietary fiber (which promotes bowel regularity) and sulforaphane, a substance which prevents the growth of cancerous cells, in fact it has a protective action against bowel, lung and breast tumors. Some researchers from the University of California, also observed that the active principles present in broccoli, such as sulforaphane, have the capacity to mitigate inflammations of the pharynx, larynx, trachea and the upper part of bronchi.
Broccoli helps to counteract water retention by helping the body to purify itself and eliminate waste.
By favoring the development of useful bacteria for our body, the Jerusalem artichoke carries out a probiotic action and therefore reinforces the immune stimulating activity.
Jerusalem artichoke, although it looks like a tuber, is a low-calorie food (about 30 kcal per 100g of fresh food) because it contains 80% water as well as fructo-oligosaccharides (elements defined as prebiotics, as they favor the development and increase the efficiency of probiotics) such as inulin. Fructo-oligosaccharides are part of the so-called soluble dietary fiber which can be only partially digested by the intestinal microflora favoring the development of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli to the detriment of potentially pathogenic bacteria. Eating this vegetable in large quantities could in fact, cause abdominal swelling.
This tuber also contains proteins and minerals such as potassium, phosphor, calcium and magnesium. It is particularly rich in vitamin A, biotin, and other vitamins of the B complex and their deficiency could result in fatigue, lack of appetite, drowsiness and even sometimes, muscular pains.
Unlike the other famous tubers we know, for example potatoes, Jerusalem artichoke has a low glycemic load, suitable for people who suffer from diabetes or are overweight.
Because of its particular nutritional composition, this tuber helps to reduce the values of bad cholesterol in the blood, to regularize intestinal activity, to stabilize the values of glycemia and uric acid.
Let's not forget the fruits of this season, which are very rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, oranges, tangerines, grapefruit; but also, pineapple and kiwi.
Moreover, in winter we can take advantage of a lot of exotic fruits and avocado, which can be consumed often, as it is an "anomalous" fruit, with different characteristics.
Avocado in fact, is very poor in sugars and on the contrary, it is rich in healthy fats and proteins. It is an excellent source of potassium and other minerals.
Doctor Carolina Capriolo
Biologist and nutritionist