10 Foods & Beverages to Warm You Up This Winter
Q: What keeps you warm but doesn’t involve turning up the
thermostat, starting a fire, or putting on a coat?
(No, this isn’t a riddle.)
A: Warming foods.
It’s true. Some foods can make you feel warmer.
The following 10 foods, spices, and beverages have properties that can stoke your metabolism and help increase blood flow to warm your body while also delighting your senses and taste buds.
10 Delicious Foods & Beverages to Keep Warm This Winter
Garlic is well-known for its warming properties, as are its close relatives – onion, shallot, leek, and chives. Research shows that garlic enhances thermogenesis (the body’s process of metabolizing a substance or nutrient to produce heat). Enjoy garlic and onion together as the perfect additions to any winter soup and stew.
2. Root Vegetables
Root vegetables (such as beets, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and yams) can make a perfect side dish for winter meals. Made of complex carbohydrates, which are high in fiber, they digest more slowly, which generates heat in the body. It’s no accident that many traditional holiday meals include whole, sliced, or mashed vegetables…they help keep us warm!
Whether you enjoy ginger in tea or a savory stir-fry, it will deliver heat. Ginger has vasodilating properties, meaning it relaxes blood vessels, which helps to increase blood flow causing a warming effect throughout the body.
A 2018 study found that ginger increased body temperature in women just ten minutes after consuming a ginger tea and that it kept women warm for longer than other hot beverages. Ginger tea is also soothing for the tummy.
Spicy foods are often eaten in warm climates as they promote sweating, which cools you down. But this versatile spice also can warm you up.
Cayenne contains a phytochemical called capsaicin, which helps turn up the heat in your body. Capsaicin digests slowly and increases gastric blood flow, which benefits your gut and warms your body. Jalapeños and ultra-spicy habaneros also contain capsaicin.
Add a warming “kick” to a winter meal with any of these hot spices.
Proteins are harder to digest than carbs or fats, and an intensely protein-rich meal can help warm you up. A study found that meat-based protein requires more energy to break down than plant-sourced protein, such as soy.
Meats are also rich in minerals such as iron and B vitamins, which can help warm you if you’re iron deficient. Winter is the perfect time to make a savory beef stew or a chicken casserole dish.
6. Black Beans
If you aren’t a meat-eater, enjoy a plant-based protein, like black beans, to produce warmth. A half-cup of these beans contains nearly eight grams of protein and lots of fiber to help keep you full. Black beans also have loads of nutrients, some of which enhance blood flow.
A study that looked at thermogenesis with protein-rich and fat-rich meals found that protein will keep you three times warmer than a fat.
Make a delicious black bean soup on a cold day to stoke your inner heat. Add some cayenne or other hot peppers for a warming boost.
Turn on your body heat with a morning cup of Joe. It’s actually the caffeine in coffee that activates thermogenesis, warming you up (so don’t drink decaf). If you prefer black or green tea, you’ll still warm up as they contain some caffeine.
Whole grains such as oats are high in bran and fiber, which are slow to break down. The slow digestion releases warming energy and prevents spikes in blood sugar that can heat you up before quickly cooling you down.
Other whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, barley, and buckwheat, also break down slowly and deliver similar warming effects.
Make yourself a delicious hot cereal with nuts and dried fruit for a thoroughly warming breakfast. Enjoy it with a caffeinated, warm beverage for an extra boost of heat.
Cinnamon is the spice of winter. There’s a reason for that. It has thermogenic properties that can raise your body temperature in cold weather.
As an added bonus, cinnamon may help boost memory, learning, and mood, as well as help support healthy blood sugar levels. You can warm your body and boost your mood and brain function at the same time.
Enjoy it in beverages (hot apple cider anyone?) or on your morning oats.
It may seem unlikely that a tropical fruit can warm you up, but banana’s B vitamins and magnesium can help do the trick. These nutrients support thyroid and adrenal gland health, which help regulate body temperature in cold weather. Enjoy a banana on a winter’s day with a nut butter, which adds complexity to create further warmth in the body.
While these foods may warm you up from the inside this winter, don’t forget to put on your coat!
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