Naini Setalvad vouches for the healing touch of antioxidants to keep the seasonal sneezing and sniffles at bay
Winter is coming, but many of us have a love-hate relationship with this season. We love the pleasant crisp air but dread the ailments it carries with it. I, on the other hand, see it as a beckoning to pull cardigans out of safe-keeping, sip on piping hot beverages, and feast on fresh, delectable produce. Although this season brings along with it coughs and sniffles galore, it also provides us with the solution to our woes. Rest assured that nature’s winter bounty will not only satisfy your palate but also act as your winter armour.
Let me introduce you to the salubrious effects of antioxidants. The following foods have this inconspicuous yet invaluable group of vitamins, minerals, and plant derivatives that act as a healing, immunising shield.
Sweet potato and purple yam: A steamed sweet potato with a hearty vegetable soup is a winter dinner delight. Not only is it delicious but also contains antioxidant vitamins A and C. This combination boosts your immunity and saves you from free radical damage. Purple yam is another great alternative that lends the antioxidant effect of Vitamin C and anthocyanin.
Cruciferous vegetables: With the cessation of the monsoon and heatwave, winters are the perfect time to devour crucifers like cauliflower and cabbage. They contain glucosinolates—phytochemicals that have a strong antioxidant effect which annihilates inflammation.
Brinjals: Armed with the purple colour-producing phytochemical anthocyanin, this vegetable does more than making a delicious bharta (a dish made of brinjals). It is known for putting forth a strong fight against free radical cellular damage.
Amla (Indian gooseberry) and dried figs: The best source of immunity-boosting Vitamin C is our very own amla. Dried figs are a better source of phenolic compounds and antioxidants than fresh figs. They are also rich in Vitamin A and act as digestive aids. This results in a decrease in inflammation. Have a fresh amla daily to safeguard your health this winter. Opt to satisfy sweet cravings with dried figs.
Winter greens: It would be silly of me not to tell you to eat your greens. Try to mix in anti-inflammatory methi (fenugreek) in your cooked vegetables and parathas (Indian flatbread). Lasooni palak (garlic spinach) will not only give you immense flavour; it is also a storehouse of antioxidants, including vitamins A and C. Sarso (mustard) leaves are rich in the oxidative stress-reducing phytochemicals, vitamins A and C.
Tomatoes: This ever so versatile vegetable fits well with every cuisine. Make it a part of your salads, soups, cooked vegetables, and curries, and gift yourself the quadruple cancer-fighting carotenoids—alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein. The humble tomato is also a good source of vitamins A and C. Bid goodbye to inflammation with this potent vegetable.
Strawberries: Winter is synonymous with the arrival of this scrumptious berry, packed with the powerful antioxidants polyphenols, anthocyanins, and vitamin C. They are known for their heart-healthy property of reducing cholesterol.
Grains and millets: The mention of sarso is incomplete without its better half—makki ki roti (corn flatbread). This corn derivative is packed with carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. These have an antioxidant effect which protects the eyes from oxidative damage caused by blue light. Another warming flour to have this season is bajra (pearl millet). Its age-retarding, heart-protective, cancer-preventive nature can be attributed to antioxidants like phytic acid, tannins, and phenols present in it. Accompany these with a dollop of cow’s ghee for better digestion.
Nuts and seeds: These make for a crunchy snack no one can resist. Peanuts, almonds, walnuts, and seeds are rich in antioxidant Vitamin E, which plays a role in making the skin a strong barrier against incoming infections.The ‘winter seeds’—sesame seeds—are rich in Vitamin E antioxidant gamma-tocopherol, which protects your heart. Omega-3 in walnuts and flax seeds are your go-to for an anti-inflammatory effect. Nuts and pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, which also has an antioxidant effect.
Green garlic: I await green garlic to arrive with such eagerness. Adding the perfect flavour to my meals, it adds the antibacterial sulphur and the blood pressure-reducing phytochemical, allium. It also exhibits an anti-inflammatory effect.
Fresh turmeric root: This fragrant herb is responsible for adding the golden touch of turmeric powder to our cuisine. The fresh form makes for a delicious pickle, which can be an accompaniment to every meal, to ensure you get a dose of antioxidant curcumin and all its infection-fighting ability.
Whole pulses: It’s the perfect season for a warm green chana chaat. This chickpea variety is not only high in protein but also a good source of vitamins C and A. Not too far behind are the leguminous fresh green peas that too have an abundance of the antioxidants, vitamins A and C. Include these fibre-rich pulses and incorporate a treasure trove of nutrients in your diet.
With such an array of antioxidants from the plant kingdom at your disposal, there is no need to fear the winter illnesses. So sit back and enjoy the mouth-watering food coupled with the beautiful weather.
AMLA HALDI CHUTNEY
250 gm fresh haldi (turmeric), peeled
250 gm amla (Indian gooseberry), deseeded
Salt and lemon to taste
1. Wash the haldi and amla.
2. Grind the amla, haldi, salt, and lemon in a grinder and make a paste.
3. Serve as an accompaniment.
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