Especially now in the cold season it is important to strengthen your immune system. Plenty of exercise and careful food choices can make a big difference. There is no need to resort to imported goods or even exotic “superfood”; local winter vegetables are also rich in vitamins and minerals.
If you want to strengthen your immune system, you should be physically active regularly, get enough sleep, not smoke and eat a healthy diet. Local winter vegetables can be helpful. This offers various health benefits, as the South Tyrol consumer advice center reports in a recent press release.
Also available in winter
Vegetables that are more or less frost hardy and can also be harvested in winter, some even at sub-zero temperatures, due to their cold resistance are called winter vegetables.
These include, among others, cabbage vegetables such as kale, red cabbage, savoy cabbage and Brussels sprouts, root and tuber vegetables such as parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes, beetroot, salsify, swede and celeriac, leafy vegetables such as lamb’s lettuce, chicory, sugar loaf, Asian salads and winter leeks.
Most of these vegetables store well and are therefore available for storage throughout the winter even after the harvest. Compared to tomatoes, peppers and zucchini, winter vegetables are less well-known, but they do not need to hide from their better-known “relatives”.
On the one hand, winter vegetables provide a wealth of health-promoting ingredients. Kale, for example, is known for its high vitamin C content and is considered a superfood.
Chicory and sugar loaf provide bitter substances that support digestion. Beetroot is rich in fiber and brassicas contain glucosinolates (mustard oil glycosides), which are believed to have a cancer-preventing effect.
On the other hand, unlike imported goods, local winter vegetables are not carted, flown or shipped halfway around the world. In addition to lower energy consumption and lower greenhouse gas emissions due to shorter transport routes, this also results in a higher taste and nutrient content.
Fruits and vegetables that are intended to survive long transport routes undamaged, on the other hand, are often harvested unripe and before the nutrient optimum has been reached.
Last but not least, growing winter vegetables outdoors uses significantly less energy than growing lettuce, tomatoes, etc. in (fossil) heated greenhouses during the cold season. And the greenhouse gas emissions that are harmful to the climate are also much lower when grown outdoors than when grown in a glasshouse.
Vegetables such as red cabbage, celeriac or beetroot can be prepared both raw and cooked, for example in soups, stews and casseroles. Due to their firm consistency, cabbage as well as root and tuber vegetables are ideal for preparing fermented vegetables.
“Local winter vegetables are the alternative to tasteless tomatoes in the cold season,” says Silke Raffeiner, nutrition expert at the South Tyrol Consumer Center.
“Winter vegetables score points with their interesting taste, valuable ingredients and climate-friendly production.” (ad)