Winter days are frequently associated with comfort foods: braised beef, hearty lasagnas and hot soups are often our first choice to warm our bellies and bones during Canada’s long, cold season. A recent national survey commissioned by the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) revealed that 79 percent of Canadians intend to make healthier food choices this winter, to maintain their health and happiness. Surprisingly, the foods we choose to ward off father winter and maximize our seasonal health are not what one might expect. Here is a list of Canadians’ top food choices for fighting off the winter blues.
Broccoli (69 per cent) and greens (68 per cent) are the favourites among Canadians choosing to stay healthy and happy during the winter months. Green foods like broccoli are rich in pre-Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and folate; all nutrients that help our immune system fight off infections. Adding broccoli to a balanced diet is a smart choice for Canadians who wish to stay healthy and happy all season long.
Surprisingly, coming in a close second for winter wellness, is fish; an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish may not be the heartiest, most savoury of options you would associate with cold winter nights, but its health benefits are perfect for getting through the season. Omega-3s are medium- and long-chain fatty acids found in foods, usually in marine sources like salmon and mackerel. Ideally, experts suggest we should have about equal amounts of Omega-6, found in plant and some animal sources, and Omega-3 in our diets. The problem is that we consume between 15 to 25 times more Omega-6 than Omega-3.
So how do we even things out? Health Canada recommends Canadians should eat fish twice a week to meet their needs while other experts recommend having a serving of fish five times per week. But let’s be realistic. Do you really want to have a salmon fillet every day? If you’re a fan of shrimp, you would have to eat over ten pounds a day to obtain the recommended daily intake of Omega-3s (with no help to your cholesterol levels). This is where a fish oil supplement can really be a lifesaver.
Third and fourth on Canadians’ preferred list of foods to combat the winter blues are yogurt and other fermented foods (63 per cent), and milk (61 per cent). These are fantastic sources of probiotics and calcium. Calcium is the single-most inadequately consumed mineral among Canadians of all ages. More than 80 per cent of Canadians over 50, both male and female, reported inadequate intakes of calcium from their diet, according to a Health Canada report.
If you are worried about not getting enough calcium from your diet, consider consulting your healthcare practitioner about a calcium supplement that’s right for you.
Last but not least, 54 per cent of Canadians reported incorporating olive oil, a rich source of healthy fats, into their diets. Sweet potato (42 per cent) and squash (30 per cent) also made the list. Both of these are rich in beta carotene, antioxidants and vitamin A; all of which boast huge health benefits all year long.