Top 10 Winter Superfoods

Photo Credit: <a href="">smith_cl9</a> via <a href="">Compfight</a> <a href="">cc</a>The winter diet is often the richest, warmest and heaviest of seasonal diets, as the body tries to conserve as much as possible during the colder months.

It often includes more cooked foods, fewer fresh foods like salads and cold drinks, and more teas and soups. Here's a list of my top 10 winter superfoods to help you stay healthy, ward off any unwanted flu bugs and keep your body functioning to its fullest.

1. Fish

The body produces vitamin D when it's exposed to sunlight, and a deficiency of it over the winter months is thought to be one of the causes of SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Found in especially high levels in fish, vitamin D might help relieve mood disorders by increasing the amount of serotonin - one of the neurotransmitters responsible for the "feel good factor" - in the brain. Vitamin D is also an important flu buster!

2. Oranges

Most people link oranges to vitamin C (another excellent immune booster), but they're also high in folate.

Folate is thought to be important to enhancing moods and, like vitamin B12, is believed to play a role in the creation of serotonin - the brain's happy chemical!

3. Legumes

Beans, peas and legumes are excellent sources of protein. Most of them provide minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc, and are also excellent sources of fiber.

4. Squash

There are many varieties of winter squash, including butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash, and they're all great choices in the winter. Squash is high in vitamin A, and is a good source of vitamins B6 and K, potassium and folate.

5. Potatoes

All varieties of potatoes, including yams and sweet potatoes, are excellent in stews and soups. They are also rich in vitamins C, B6 and A.

6. Apples

I love apple pie! So thank goodness apples are an excellent source of fiber that helps bind toxins and balance blood sugars. Apples also contain D-glucarate and flavonoids that help with inflammation and support detox pathways.

7. Pomegranate

Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants that help to fight inflammation, reduce heart disease and reduce risk of prostate cancer.

8. Quinoa

A perfect breakfast solution! Quinoa is rich in protein, magnesium, B vitamins and fiber. It'll keep your blood sugars balanced and mood and energy levels up during those cold, dark winter months.

9. Almonds

A perfect snack or addition to your oatmeal for extra protein – almonds are packed full of calcium and good fats, and keep the body alkaline. When your body is not alkaline enough, you risk osteoporosis, poor immune function, low energy and weight gain.

10. Dark Leafy Greens

Dark leafy greens, such as kale, chard and collards, thrive in the chill of winter when the rest of the produce section looks bleak. These greens are particularly rich in vitamins A, C and K.

Start incorporating these nutrient-dense winter winners into your diet, and you're sure to stay healthy and balanced until spring!