Last time we talked about the goodness in some of the produce that is amply available during the winters. The list of such healthy foods available during winters does not just end here. Let us take another round of the vegetable market and see what else is available and what goodness do they hold.
Mustard: Though imprinted on our memories by the efforts of late Mr Yash Chopra, Mustard or sarson does more than providing beautiful background for film songs. Mustard leaves make for a wonderful vegetable in the months ranging from November to March. It is rich in phyto-nutrients which aid in prevention of many diseases. This leafy vegetable belongs to the Brassica family, the other members of which include cabbage and broccoli. The mustard leaves are rich source of anti oxidants boosting body’s immune system. It is also rich in Vitamins A, C, E and K aiding eyesight, healthy skin and mucous membrane. Mustard is low in fat and sodium content and is an excellent source of folic acid. The mustard seeds used as a spice are helpful in digestion and are a store house of calcium, selenium, magnesium and phosphorous among other essential minerals. Mustard also yields the mustard oil, which is an important part of kitchens in India. It has been known to aid not just digestion but has also been found to effective sinusitis to a certain extent. The oil is also known for its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. The high content of vitamin E in the oil helps improve skin health as well.
Peas: It is surprising how much goodness the tiny peas in a pod pack in. The plant belongs to the legume family. Like all legumes, the peas are rich in iron and Vitamin C. Peas as a source of Iron is mainly important because the amount of iron found in peas is hardly matched by any other non-animal source. Peas also contain a carotenoid (that which has Vitamin A activity, responsible for good vision and act as anti-oxidants) called lutein which is known for its anti-aging properties and reduces the risk of cataract. The Vitamin C helps in developing resistance against infections in our bodies. Peas are also a rich source of essential B-complex vitamins.
Ginger: It has earned fame as a spice, a delicacy as well as for its medicinal properties. Ginger is a rhizome of a plant to which others like turmeric and cardamom belong. In India no mention of a winter session is complete without the mention of the masala tea of which ginger is the main constituent. This is so because ginger is known for its immunity boosting powers. It is used for enhancing the flavour of curries and pulses. Dried ginger is also used in our country for various food preparations whereas pickled ginger is used in both the Chinese and Japanese cuisines. In Western cuisine ginger is used in preparing traditional sweet foods like the gingerbread, ginger biscuits and ginger ale. Besides being used for its flavour, ginger forms a basic ingredient of food in many cultures because ginger stimulates digestion by helping in absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients in our body. It also provides gastrointestinal relief, meaning thereby that as well as counters the effect of any kind of sickness. Ginger’s anti inflammatory properties have been known to be effective in countering chronic pains.
There are more vegetables, fruits and not to forget nuts like peanuts which are must haves in this cold season. You must also include all of them in your daily diet to ensure that you are able to get the maximum benefit and the result will reflect in healthy bones, glowing skin and lustrous hair.
(This post first appeared as a column in The New Indian Express on Jan 4, 2013. You can read the link here : http://newindianexpress.com/education/student/article1406560.ece)