Top Winter Season Vegetables: Stay Healthy During Cold Months!

Fact checked by Olga Sadouskaya, MD
Clinical Pharmacologist, Chief Medical Officer

Your immunity is typically reduced during winter, making you vulnerable to colds and flu. Eating winter seasonal vegetables can be a powerful defense against a weak immune system. Winter vegetables contain immune-boosting nutrients like vitamins A, C, and zinc.

In this article, we’ll explore the nutrients you need in winter and why you should eat seasonally. We’ll also provide a list of winter vegetables to eat and tips for growing vegetables in winter.

Let’s dive in and discuss all things winter veggies!

Nutrients your body needs the most during the winter months

Wintertime can mess with your routine and disrupt your health. You’re less likely to be active during winter and may be more inclined to reach for sugar-laden junk food to lift your mood. These factors, along with the cold weather, create the perfect environment for germs to thrive.

Your body needs a steady supply of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from your diet to stay strong in winter. These are some of the nutrients your body needs to fight colds and flu in winter:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • B complex vitamins
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Selenium

Eating plenty of seasonal veggies in winter is a great way to give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs most during this season.

But what are winter vegetables?

What defines winter season vegetables?

Many people think that during the cold season, vegetables will be few and far between. Luckily, this isn’t the case!

Winter season vegetables are vegetables grown and harvested in the winter months. They’re vegetables that survive in cold temperatures. Root vegetables and leafy greens are examples; they can withstand harsh weather conditions like frost. Many of these veggies produce more sugar when exposed to frosty conditions, making them tastier in winter.

Best vegetables for winter

An easy way to eat seasonal vegetables in winter is to get your produce from local farmers’ markets or grow your own!

When you choose to eat seasonally, the vegetables on your plate are often fresher and more nutritious. Eating in season can also be more affordable and kinder to the planet, as the veggies require fewer resources to grow and transport.

Top 10 healthiest winter vegetables

Vegetables that grow in winter are hardy, but that doesn’t make them less nutritious or tasty. Winter meals don’t have to be boring and repetitive!

WeatherWell has compiled a list of the top vegetables to add to your winter menu. If you have a green thumb, this is also a list of winter vegetables to grow in your veggie garden.

1. Beets

Beets are bright-red root vegetables that thrive in the fall and winter. These deliciously sweet tubers make a great addition to any roasted veg dish.

Beets are a good source of phytochemicals, vitamin C, vitamin A, B vitamins, and iron.

If you’re an athlete, consuming beets is a natural way to boost your exercise performance due to their nitrate content. This is promising, considering many people feel too sluggish to exercise during winter!

Tip: Try grating beets and making a colorful winter salad with grated carrots, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

2. Broccoli

Broccoli is an anti-inflammatory winter vegetable loaded with potent antioxidants. If you can eat some every day in winter, your immune system will be happy.

A cup of this green superfood provides more than the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. It’s also a great source of vitamin A, calcium, zinc, folic acid, and anti-cancer compounds sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol.

Broccoli soup and sautéed broccoli with cheese sauce are some popular winter dishes.

3. Brussels sprouts

Winter is the cruciferous vegetable season. Another member of this family are Brussels sprouts. They are cold-tolerant vegetables that provide a lot of the nutrients your body needs in winter, like vitamins A and C.

While they’re not everyone’s favorite, Brussels sprouts are delicious when cooked well. Try sautéeing them in some butter with onions and sage to bring out their flavor.

4. Cabbage

Next on the list of winter vegetables is another cruciferous veggie: cabbage. Available in green and red varieties, cabbage is brimming with vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, zinc, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

You can add it to your meals throughout fall and winter. It’s delicious when eaten raw or cooked. We love it in coleslaw, stews, and stir fries.

5. Carrots

Carrots are brightly colored root veggies that reach their peak during winter. The cold soil temperatures force carrots to convert starch to sugar, making them sweet and flavorful.

Their bright color comes from carotenoid pigments like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Beta-carotene gets converted to vitamin A, crucial for immune function and healthy vision.

Carotenoids found in carrots may be particularly beneficial for older men. Research shows that eating them frequently may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

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6. Kale and spinach

Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and Swiss chard are frost-hardy veggies. They love cool weather and well-drained soil. If you’re growing winter vegetables, your garden won’t be complete without them.

Leafy greens are some of the healthiest veggies on the planet! They offer essential nutrients like fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, B vitamins, folic acid, zinc, iron, calcium, and potassium.

Greens are lovely when lightly sautéed. We suggest enjoying them in warm salads, stir fries, soups, and quiches.

7. Green onions

Green onions, or scallions, are green stalked veggies typically planted in winter. They’re part of the allium family of vegetables, but they have a milder flavor than regular onions.

Green onions have antiviral benefits, making them a must-have in your winter garden.

They contain polysaccharide compounds, which support immunity with anti-flu properties.

Raw or cooked, green onions can transform the flavor of salads, sauces, dips, stews, soups, and casseroles.

8. Leeks

Leeks are underrated vegetables that do well in cold weather, but they don’t get nearly enough attention! Leeks have a slightly sweet, oniony flavor and a buttery texture that packs a punch to warming winter soups and stews.

Interestingly, research suggests that eating leeks and other allium vegetables like green onions may reduce cancer risk.

9. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes, also known as yams, are in season from October to December, making them a favorite fall and winter vegetable. These bright orange tubers get their color from antioxidants like beta-carotene and anthocyanins. They are a powerhouse of complex carbohydrates, fiber, magnesium, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

Sweet potatoes are beneficial for your immune system, and they’re helpful for those who want to lose weight. They’re satiating and low in calories, helping you fill up and minimize the risk of binging on junk food.

You can enjoy sweet potatoes this winter in casseroles, stews, and soups.

10. Winter squash

Winter squash is the name for a group of orange root vegetables like pumpkin, butternut, and acorn squash. Eaten throughout the winter (as their name suggests), winter squash is a source of fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins A and C, B vitamins, magnesium, and potassium.

Winter squash can be steamed, baked, and roasted. If you’re following a paleo diet, squash can replace rice and other grains as a source of carbs.

Growing tomatoes and other vegetables in winter

Is it possible to grow vegetables in winter?

You might think low temperatures and frost mean it’s not worth growing winter vegetables. However, it is possible to grow nutritious, cold-tolerant crops during winter. In fact, cold temperatures are why many winter veggies taste so good.

There are a few gardening techniques you should follow when growing vegetables in winter.

  • Always do your research to ensure you plant vegetables that thrive in your climate.
  • Plant vegetables directly in the ground, as planter boxes may be more vulnerable to the cold.
  • Plant in the warmest spots in your garden that get the most light in winter.
  • Use extra mulch to insulate the soil and protect your veggies from frost.

Keep an eye on the WeatherWell forecast for your area so you can harvest crops before severe frost or snow sets in.

Keep in mind, vegetables that grow in winter aren’t planted in winter. Plant your veggies in advance so they’re ready to harvest throughout the cold months.

How to preserve vegetables in winter

Storing winter vegetables helps to preserve them, so you can give your body the nutrients it needs in winter and beyond.

If you’re growing root vegetables, they can be kept in the ground and pulled out whenever you need them. Once harvested, keep them in a cool dry area that doesn’t get much light. You can try storing them in well-ventilated wooden crates in a cool and dry cellar, basement, or closet. However, root vegetables like carrots and beets stay freshest when kept in an airtight bag in the fridge.

Dehydrating, fermenting, pickling, and canning are good ways to preserve veggies. Onions and beets are delicious when pickled in vinegar.

Freezing is another way to make winter veggies last several months. We suggest chopping up and blanching leafy greens and root vegetables before freezing them in airtight containers.

Wrapping up

The arrival of cold winter days does not have to mean frequent infections and bland meals. Eating vegetables in season during winter helps you get the nutrients you need to stay healthy, energetic, and happy during the gloomy months.

We hope this article has answered the question, “What are winter vegetables?”

January 5, 2023