KARACHI: As the wind turns chilly, you can tell that the season to bundle up in woolly cardigans has arrived. Even though embracing winter with open arms can be a daunting task, the season presents us with nutritious treats which help to ease our discomfort.
Come winter, one can easily spot dry fruit vendors selling their wares. These men, shuffling and pushing their carts of dry fruit and nuts, make our lives a little bit simpler during this season. For many people — young and old — the favourite activity during winter is devouring nuts; whether it be cracking open walnuts to munching dried figs. The yummy goods piled on thelas include a wide selection: almonds, coconuts, chilgozey (pine nuts), walnuts, dried apricots, dried figs and rewri (sesame seed candy) amongst others. Here’s a look at how these snacks promote our well being in winter.
Almost all nuts are a good source of selenium which is thought to be good for mental health and prevent depression. According to the diethealthclub.com, depression is a big issue during winter as many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (Sad).
Additionally, “As winter promotes a sedentary lifestyle, loading your diet with plenty of fibre to relive constipation is essential. Nuts contain a huge amount of fibre, especially coconuts, pine nuts and almonds. Using them in salads combined with a variety of fruits and vegetables is healthy,” elucidated Dr Madiha Asghar, a General Physician.
Coconuts contain vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 and C, as well as being especially high in manganese. Manganese is involved in bone formation, thyroid function, calcium absorption, blood sugar regulation and immune function. Chilgozey (pine nuts) also contain the above mentioned vitamins and minerals, reports nutritional-supplements-health-guide.com.
On the other hand, peanuts and almonds provide the B group vitamins and are an exceptional source of vitamin E. “Vitamin E is good for the skin as it helps reduce wrinkles, and help minor skin injuries heal quickly,” adds Asghar. Peanuts and almonds are high in fat, but it is monounsaturated fat (one of the healthier ones); they also contain anti-oxidants, matching many fruits, which help protect against heart disease and cancer, reports bbc.co.uk.
Similar to pine nuts, sesame seeds are especially high in calcium, as well as providing large amounts of copper (which helps to provide relief for arthritis — which may get aggravated in colder weather) and zinc (a lack of zinc has been linked to spine problems such as osteoporosis), reports whfoods.com.
Dr Arshad Sheikh, a nutritionist, recommends walnuts as they “are one of the best foods for eating more omega-3 fatty acids; this is an essential part of the body’s metabolism, but is also something the body cannot create itself and has to ingest.”
As far as dried fruits are concerned, dried apricots and dried figs may actually have more health benefits than eating them fresh, reports helium.com. Dried apricots contain a large amount of vitamin A, useful for helping improve eyesight. Dried figs have potassium; useful for helping maintain blood pressure.
So many benefits and such great taste — buy some delicious treats and make your winter more fun.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2011.