How These 20 Fruits and Vegetables Can Benefit Your Health This Winter, According to a Nutritionist

Shopping with the seasons not only saves you money but also means the produce you buy will pack a more flavorful and nutritious punch.

If you've ever bought a mid-winter melon, you've undoubtedly noticed the difference in taste and price compared to its summertime counterpart. That's because seasonal food is fresher, less expensive, and packed with more flavor and nutrients than fruits and veggies consumed out of season. Plus, filling your plate with in-season produce is better for the environment because they don't need to be transported over long distances, which also means you'll be supporting local economies and farmers, too.

Fortunately, Mother Nature doesn't take a winter break when it comes to producing delicious produce. While you may be familiar with some wintertime fruits and veggies (hello luscious grapefruit), there's probably a good chunk you haven't tried. Here are 20 fruits and vegetables that are harvested during the chillier months. Keep an eye out for the next time you visit your grocery store or farmers market.

Winter Fruits and Vegetables

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Butternut squash
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celeriac
  • Cherimoya
  • Collard greens
  • Cranberries
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Grapefruit
  • Kohlrabi
  • Kumquats
  • Parsnips
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
  • Pomegranate

1. Beets

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Beets are root vegetables with a characteristic ruby red hue and edible leafy greens. They provide a whole host of nutrients like:

  • Potassium is a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure.
  • Manganese is a mineral needed for collagen production, which supports healthy skin and joints.
  • B vitamins, like folate, provide energy. Research in the California Journal of Health Promotion has also linked low folate intake to depression.

How to eat it: Simply peel, cube, and toss beets with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper before popping them into the oven and roasting until tender. Beets are fantastic as is or used in a garden salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette.

2. Broccoli

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This crunchy green is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family. A 2021 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition assessed 684 older women and found those who ate more broccoli had lower amounts of calcium build-up in their arteries. Mineral deposits of calcium can lead to artery hardening and are tied to a higher risk of heart disease-related hospitalization and death. Plus, broccoli contains fiber and vitamin K, which support bone health.

How to eat it: There are countless ways to prep broccoli, like a simple sauté, stir fry, or oven-roasted and grilled florets. One of my favorite prep methods is to lightly steam broccoli to an al dente consistency and then drizzle it with roasted red pepper pesto.

3. Brussels Sprouts

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Brussels sprouts—which are cousins of broccoli—resemble baby cabbages. But, don't let their size fool you: these little gems are antioxidant powerhouses. Antioxidants are molecules that combat cell damage, which thereby reduces your risk of diseases like cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's.

How to eat it: The most delicious way to cook these gems is to oven-roast them until their edges are golden and crisp. Just wash, trim, pat dry, halve, and toss with avocado oil and salt, before arranging on a baking sheet. Cook at 425°F for 20-25 minutes.

4. Butternut Squash

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In my opinion, butternut squash's yellow-orange hue, butterscotch flavor, and smooth texture are a feast for the senses. It's also quite nutritious: One cup of cubed baked butternut squash provides 6 grams of fiber and 126% of the daily value of vitamin A, a nutrient important for preserving vision and eye health.

How to eat it: I love oven-roasted butternut squash doused with a combo of maple syrup, coconut oil, salt, and pepper. However, this veg is quite difficult to cut, so make sure your fingers are always above the knife and never under to avoid any mishaps!

5. Cabbage

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This cruciferous veggie adds a whole lot of tasty crunch to meals without a ton of calories. In fact, 1 cup of shredded cabbage has just 18 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrates, two of which are fiber. Fiber is great for regulating blood sugar and helping manage weight.

How to eat it: This winter staple can be enjoyed warmly as a side dish cooked with apples or served raw as the base for a slaw made with apple cider vinegar, ginger, and citrus.

6. Carrots

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Carrots are packed with beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. This key nutrient supports immune function and bone health, and it acts as an antioxidant to protect cells from damage that leads to disease.

How to eat it: You can incorporate carrots into both savory and sweet dishes. For example, shred or chop them to add to garden salads, veggie chili, and stew. Or season whole carrots with juicy pineapple and cinnamon. then roast in the oven. You can also bake a batch of carrot muffins, carrot oatmeal cookies, or carrot walnut cake.

7. Cauliflower

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While vitamin C is often associated with citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, it can also be found in cauliflower's white florets; one cup of cauliflower provides over 50% of the daily value for this immune-supporting nutrient. It's also a good choice for those watching their weight or carb intake since one cup has just 25 calories and 3 grams of net carbs.

How to eat it: One of my favorite ways to enjoy cauliflower in the colder months is to grill it in foil with a bit of garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and salt. It's a simple side dish that melts in your mouth or can be mashed as a substitute for whipped potatoes.

8. Celeriac

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I'll admit, celeriac looks like it sprouted on an alien planet. Although it appears intimidating, it's actually super easy to prep and enjoys. This bulbous root has a delicate, slightly earthy taste and starchy texture similar to a potato. It's also rich in nutrients like:

  • Vitamin C, among its many benefits, helps the body absorb iron.
  • Vitamin K aids in wound healing.
  • B vitamins, like B6 and riboflavin, help you metabolize food into energy.

How to eat it: To get started, just trim off the outer bits and peel to uncover the white flesh. You can eat celeriac boiled and mashed, cut into oven-roasted "fries," or raw. My favorite is the latter, sliced thin and tossed in a mustard vinaigrette.

9. Cherimoya

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When you crack open this heart-shaped green fruit, you'll see it has a creamy white inside speckled with black seeds. It's unlike any fruit I've ever tasted, and I can only describe it as a blend of banana, vanilla, mango, papaya, pineapple, and coconut—pretty much a tropical smoothie in a singular fruit. Plus, it offers 30% of the daily value for vitamin C and over 25% of your recommended intake of fiber with 7 grams per serving.

How to eat it: I look forward to eating cherimoya all year either in a rich pudding or frozen and scooped out with a spoon, kind of like a plant-based custard. Just be sure to discard the black seeds before diving in.

10. Collard Greens

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Leafy greens like collards are rich in nutrients like vitamins K, A, and C. Plus, they only have 11 calories per cup and less than 1 gram of net carbs. They're also an important veggie for heart health: A 2021 study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology followed 50,000 people for 23 years and found those who consumed nitrate-rich vegetables—including leafy greens—had a 12% to 26% lower risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure.

How to eat it: Balance out the bitterness of collard greens with sweet ingredients like fruit, sweet onions, sweet potatoes, and red bell peppers. My go-to is collards braised in vegetable broth with apple cider vinegar, yellow onion, maple syrup, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

11. Cranberries

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These gorgeous, jewel-like berries are typically available fresh from September through January, providing key nutrients like vitamin C and fiber through part of the winter. A 2020 review published in Clinical Nutrition found cranberry consumption may help people maintain healthy blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) while improving cardiovascular health.

How to eat it: I crave homemade cranberry sauce during the holidays, which I make by boiling the berries in fresh squeezed orange juice with maple syrup and spices. You can use it as a side dish, sauce, topping, or spread and pair it with oatmeal, pancakes, yogurt, wild rice, or even ice cream.

12. Fennel

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Many people bypass fennel since they're not sure how to cook with it, but the bulb has a delicate and slightly sweet, perfumy flavor that brightens up dishes. One cup of raw slices contains just 27 calories, with nearly 3 grams of fiber as well as vitamin C and potassium.

How to eat it: You can eat fennel raw or cooked. I love it shaved and marinated in a lemony olive oil vinaigrette or sautéed over low heat, seasoned simply with sea salt and black pepper.

13. Garlic

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Garlic can be grown all year in some climates, but in colder areas, it's planted in the fall and harvested in the winter. This veg has been used widely for thousands of years as both a seasoning and medicinal food. Today, modern research, including a 2020 review in the Trends in Food Science & Technology Journal, has found that garlic may help prevent and treat a number of viral infections in humans, including the common cold and flu.

How to eat it: You can add garlic to nearly any savory dish: breakfast omelets, chickpea scrambles, homemade vinaigrettes, hummus, soups, stews, stir-fries, and more. You can also roast garlic cloves in foil drizzled with olive oil to make a delicious spread that can be slathered on fresh bread or baked potatoes.

14. Grapefruit

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Not only does grapefruit's tart taste make it stand out from other fruits, but it's also lower in calories, too. Half of this citrus fruit has just 45 calories while packing about 50% of your recommended daily vitamin C intake.

How to eat it: I can't get enough of grapefruit when they're in season, and there are countless ways to enjoy this citrus superfood. Sprinkle them with brown sugar and broil until bulging and bubbly for a sweet treat. Or add segments to water and tea.

15. Kohlrabi

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Like celeriac, kohlrabi's appearance may give you pause. But its taste and texture are similar to broccoli and cabbage—just slightly sweeter and a bit peppery. Kohlrabi only has 35 calories and 4 grams of net carbs per cup. Plus, it provides generous amounts of vitamin C and potassium.

How to eat it: Peel and then shred or slice this cruciferous vegetable to make salads and slaws extra crunchy. You can also cook kohlrabi: Cut it into matchsticks and roast it as fries or slice it thin and bake it as chips.

16. Kumquats

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These grape-size citrus fruits pack an impressive 12 grams of fiber per cup. That's over 40% of the daily recommended intake. The same serving size also has as much vitamin C as an orange and is rich in flavonoids—plant compounds that contribute to a lower risk of heart disease and cancer.

How to eat it: Wash and eat them whole (skin and all) or slice and add to salads. To enhance their sweet flavor and balance their tartness, roll each kumquat between your fingers before eating.

17. Parsnips

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This pale root veg is related to its more colorful relative, carrots. However, parsnips have a sweeter flavor than carrots, as well as a hint of spice. They also supply a wide range of nutrients including vitamin C, folate, potassium, and magnesium.

How to eat it: Enjoy parsnips mashed with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, oat milk, salt, and pepper. Or oven-roast them with avocado oil, salt, and pepper, garnishing with fresh dill for a savory side dish.

18. Pears

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A box of pears is one of my favorite holiday gifts. They're beautiful, filling, and somehow seem decadent even though they're incredibly good for you. In fact, a 2019 review published in Current Developments in Nutrition found pears (in addition to apples) decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.

How to eat it: Enjoy pears raw or sliced and slather them with nut butter. Pears are also fantastic cooked; I love them baked and then drizzled with melted dark chocolate and dusted with cinnamon.

19. Persimmons

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Persimmons resemble tomatoes but have a firmer texture and sweeter flavor. The first time I tried one at my local farmer's market, I ended up going home with a bag full! One whole persimmon provides 6 grams of fiber along with vitamin C and manganese.

How to eat it: To avoid the astringent variety, look for Fuyu persimmons, which taste like a combination of plums, dates, and honey when ripe. While you can bite right in, persimmons can also be frozen like cherimoya for a creamy ice-cream alternative.

20. Pomegranate

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One of the more festive winter fruits, pomegranates are bursting with antioxidants. Plus, emerging research in the Foods journal has found that the fruit's edible seeds offer anti-inflammatory benefits. This means they may contribute to the prevention of several diseases.

How to eat it: Thanks to their hard exterior, you'll have to crack open pomegranates to get to their juicy insides. You can eat the seeds as is or sprinkle them on top of oatmeal, yogurt, and even guacamole for a burst of sweetness.

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