9 Healthiest Foods You Can Eat In January

Boost your brainpower and ward off a cold—and still stick to your seasonal diet.

January 3, 2017
small bowl of pumpkin seeds
Oksana Mizina/ Shutterstock

You resolved to eat more healthfully in 2017, so you head to the grocery store to load up on healthy foods—and you’re greeted with sickly looking tomatoes, limp greens, sprouting potatoes, and strawberries that look like they just traveled a few thousand miles to get here (because they did). 

But don’t let a lackluster selection of fresh foods keep you from your healthy-eating goals. It is possible to find seasonal, good-for-you produce this time of year, picked at the peak of flavor and filled with nutrients specifically suited to keep you healthy during the long, cold winter.

Here are 9 you can feel good about eating right now. 

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Sliced grapefruit
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Good for your nose and your ticker, this fruit usually gets passed up in favor of its more popular relatives (oranges, tangerines, and clementines) or consumed via sugary “juice cocktails” that contain more sugar and food dye than actual grapefruit juice. But its hefty vitamin C content can reduce cold symptoms by 23 percent, studies have found, and may even help lower cholesterol (like these 12 foods that lower cholesterol naturally). Opt for ruby red varieties, which are more palatable than white and reach their height of flavor in early winter.

Related: 5 Ways To Eat More Immune-Boosting Vitamin C

basket of beets
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These hearty root vegetables store well and will likely pop up at your farmers’ market until summer. Eat them and save your brain. Beets are high in nitrates, naturally occurring minerals that help transport oxygen to your brain. A study from Wake Forest University recently found that older adults with high dietary levels of nitrates (the naturally occurring nitrates found in whole foods, rather than the synthetic versions used in processed meats) showed greater activity in their frontal lobes, suggesting they were better able to ward off dementia, compared to when they were on low-nitrate diets. Think you don’t like beets? Think again, and try out this recipe for Roasted Beets And Sauteed Beet Greens.

sauteed brussels sprouts
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Brussels Sprouts

They’re full of belly-filling fiber, which will help you stick to those New Year’s resolutions, and you may still be able to find them at your local farmers’ market. Another benefit to brussels sprouts: They contain high levels of folate, a B vitamin best known for warding off birth defects of the brain and spine when consumed by pregnant women. And surveys suggest there’s a whole lotta baby-making going on in January, which falls nine months before September 16, the most common birthday in the United States, according to Harvard research.

Discover what brussels sprouts are really supposed to taste like in this drool-worthy recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Apples And Bacon.

whole roast turkey
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Eating a healthier diet means moving beyond the produce aisles. There’s a reason you should include more turkey and poultry in your diet during the winter: The tryptophan in turkey can help ward off the winter blues or its more severe form, seasonal affective disorder, because it gets converted to mood-boosting serotonin in your body. This same amino acid exists in seafood, grass-fed beef, and healthy fats, such as coconut oil and butter from grass-fed cows.

Related: 6 Ways To Embrace Hygge, The Danish Secret To Staying Happy During Winter

cauliflower steak, aka roast slice of cauliflower
mmkarabella/ Shutterstock

Cauliflower reaches its peak from December through March. It’s one of the few vegetables you’ll find at year-round farmers’ markets in January, depending on the climate of your hometown. Like turkey, this cruciferous vegetable has tryptophan, some of the highest levels of any vegetable. Use it in place of white potatoes to make a waistline-friendly, low-carb version of mashed potatoes; or roast large slices with a little olive oil to make a cauliflower “steak,” as shown above. (Want more waist-friendly eats? Cauliflower is one of these 7 Food Swaps That Will Make You Skinny.) 

avocado slices on toast
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In addition to being rich in tryptophan and magnesium, avocados contain healthy monounsaturated fats, which provide a more sustained form of energy than the quick-burning carbs people tend to crave in winter. Having sustained energy levels will keep your mood elevated, too.

Related: 10 High Fat Foods You Should Be Eating More Of, According To Nutritionists 

fried egg in cast iron skillet
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Eggs, particularly those from pasture-raised hens, are rich in vitamin D, a disease-fighting nutrient that comes primarily from sunlight. Since it’s not always practical to head outside, half-naked, to soak up some D in the winter, load up on eggs, which are also filled with mood-promoting omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, B vitamins, and iodide.

Related: Eat These Foods To Boost Your Vitamin D Levels This Winter

bowl of yogurt
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Yogurt contains a bacterium called Lactobacillus reuteri that has been found to block the replication of viruses that invade your body when you get sick. Not all brands contain that particular strain of beneficial bacteria, so look for a brand that does. We recommend going organic with yogurt from Stonyfield Organic, which contains L. reuteri.

Related: How Probiotics Can Ease Your Depression— And 4 Other Benefits That Have Nothing To Do With Digestion

bowl of pumpkin seeds
Oksana Mizina/ Shutterstock
Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin and squash seeds are rich in magnesium (a mineral that 68% of people don't get enough of!), which helps your body convert tryptophan into serotonin, and they’re basically free, every time you cook a pumpkin or squash, which you may still be able to find locally this time of year.