Winter can seem like a real downer after the beginning of the new year; there are no major holidays around the corner, the weather is bleak, and hearty stews have started to feel a bit boring. It can be tempting to try to cure your cold-weather blues by stocking up on bright, cheerful vegetables at the supermarket, but most chefs and dieticians will warn that buying out-of-season produce is usually a waste of money.
Out-of-season produce is shipped over long distances from farms in different climates with different growing seasons. As the fruits and vegetables make their long journey, their natural sugars begin to break down, sacrificing flavor. Vitamins and minerals also disappear in the process of shipping, so your out-of-season produce is actually less nutritious than its in-season counterparts.
So what should you do? Chow down on cheese and dump hot sauce on your canned greens to add flavor? Well, no, actually. Many spicy, sugary, and dairy-heavy foods can be contributing factors to the illnesses we’re more susceptible to during winter, like colds and the flu.
You may be thinking that the best solution to winter food woes is to hide under your covers nibbling waffles until April. That’s simply not true, says Trishna Joshi, lead nutritionist on The Fresh Diet. “The most common food mistake we make in the winter is running straight for high-fat, high-sugar, and high-carb foods when we should be doing the opposite,” says Joshi. “Mother nature provides us with ample produce during this season. By consuming foods in season, we get better flavor, seasonal health benefits, more nutrients, and cheaper prices.”
We’ve listed the top foods you should avoid during the winter months to give you a better idea of what to look for (and what to walk right past) in the grocery store. Click through our slideshow to benefit your health, wallet, and especially your taste buds.
Some foods are best left to the spring, and fresh asparagus is one of them, according to Suzanne Lehrer, culinary manager at Plated. “Anything light green in the store is special to spring,” says Lehrer. “Pick up anything dark green instead for winter — kale, Swiss chard, and escarole.”
This article originally published on January 23, 2015.