Warming foods for Chilly WeatherJason Firmager
Karen Watins shares knowledge on foods to create inner warmth during the chilly months
With chilly mornings and evenings, lots of us are pulling on jumpers and jackets to keep warm. In addition to these extra layers, there are a few dietary tips that can help boost circulation and prepare for the cold months ahead.
Chillies There are some ‘super-foods’ that really can enhance circulation. Top of the list would have to be cayenne pepper or chilli powder, which is a wonderful addition for stimulating the circulation. (I had a grandmother who insisted that sprinkling chilli powder inside socks was a remedy for chilblains, but I’m not sure I’d actually want to try it, as it seems somewhat messy to me!). The warming properties come from the chemical called capsaicin, which is what gives the peppers their heat, the more capsaicin a chilli contains, the hotter it will be and the more it will stimulate the circulation. You are bound to have seen someone become flushed when eating a curry or an extra hot chilli, and this flushing effect is caused by a boost in circulation, so, adding chillies to the diet on a regular basis has to be worth trying.
Ginger Another useful spice would be ginger, and on a cold afternoon a cup of ginger tea is a delightful way to take the chill out of any damp winter day. To make, simply steep a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger in a cup of hot water for five to ten minutes before drinking. Or, for added flavour, simmer the ginger for a few minutes with some orange slices. In addition to flavouring the ginger tea, oranges and in fact all citrus fruits offer a good dose of vitamin C, which can also help strengthen blood capillary walls and may help to prevent a build-up of plaque, which can slow down blood flow.
Veg Adding in all types of fresh fruit and vegetables can help to clear an excess of cholesterol. Particularly useful winter vegetables, like leeks and cabbage and potatoes, all provide plenty of potassium, which can be beneficial for the circulatory system.
Garlic Alongside this, garlic can aid the health of the arteries and make platelets less likely to clump together. A useful winter drink in our house is lemon juice, minced garlic and grated ginger, perhaps flavoured with a little honey. A morale booster, a cold fighter and a boost to circulation all in one!
Fruit A few issues back, I wrote an article on berries and talked about the antioxidant lycopene and this one has been linked to improving circulation. So adding in tomatoes (perhaps to winter warming stews) along with other foods like pink grapefruits, watermelon, berries, and apricots will help to boost lycopene in the diet.
Fish Avoiding saturated fats and increasing essential fatty acids in the diet, so adding a few winter meals of oily fish like herring, sardines, pilchards, mackerel and salmon can be benefical. Additional sources of fatty acids that can be helpful include nuts and seeds, all of which make great snacks on busy days.
Chocolate Finally, this article would not be complete without mention of chocolate! Cocoa contains flavonoids, which can help with circulation, but make sure it is dark chocolate.