Winter is the time of year when your options for local, seasonal fruits are reduced to apples or…apples…or are they? Some of the most nutritious, unique fruits grown in the U.S. are available in the winter months. Tropical and citrus fruits, which are grown in places like Florida and Hawaii, have the highest levels of heart healthy antioxidants of any fruit during other times of the year.
Have a Kumquat
Kumquats are yellow, olive sized citrus fruits full of antioxidants contained in their edible skin. At only 1 calorie per kumquat, a serving of five contains a healthy dose of fiber, potassium, vitamins A and C. California and Florida grow our domestic crop which peaks between November and March. Kumquats add sweetness to a salad and they can be substituted when oranges are out of season. Diced kumquats and avocado make a great salsa when mixed with red onion, cilantro and lime. Look for firm fruits that are bright orange in color as green ones aren’t ripe yet.
Quinces may actually help ward off the flu. With twice the vitamin C of apples or pears, quinces are also high in anti-viral phenolic compounds that have been found to fight off the disease. Quinces grow in California and up and down the East Coast. California’s Pineapple quinces and the East Coast’s Orange and Smyrna varieties grow from September until December. Quinces are mostly found in Mexican or Asian grocers. These fruits are great to use in place of apples or pears and are wonderful when cooked in stews or any recipe that calls for them.
A persimmon a day could be better for your heart than an apple because they contain much higher amounts of fiber, minerals and phenolic compounds that prevent atherosclerosis, a leading cause of heart disease, heart attacks and stroke. An added bonus: the antioxidants in persimmons can help control diabetes and the cell damage it causes. Their flavor and texture are similar to plums and apricots and are often used for salsas or to flavor a salad or a cake recipe.
Star fruit, figs, dates and prunes are other great winter month fruits to snack on!