5 Comfort Foods with Surprising Nutritional Benefits

Jan 03, 2024 Healthy Eating 4 MIN

5 Comfort Foods with Surprising Nutritional Benefits

The weather is changing. The nights are earlier and darker, and the rain and snow come more readily. As we end one year and begin the next, much of our time is spent inside, warming our bones by the fire as we celebrate life, family, and new beginnings. It is a time of hearty meals, eaten alone or shared in communion, to warm our hearts and bellies with the eternal comforts of good food and friendship. Rest easy in the knowledge that comfort and health often lie hand-in-hand and that searching for one need not sacrifice the other. To make your search even easier, we have collected a list of five comfort foods with surprising nutritional benefits to satisfy the needs of your body and your soul.

Lentils

Lentils are a bit like what would come out if you combined beans and rice into one food! A tiny legume with a hefty, earthy taste, lentils are a great source of Manganese, Potassium, and Fiber.[1] Manganese is good for antioxidant support to help protect cells from oxidative stress, and Potassium helps support nerve and heart function. Perfect in cozy winter meals like stews, vegetable bowls, and curries, lentils are great comfort food for meal prep that can keep you full all week long. Try tossing lentils in a simple, hearty stew with carrots, leafy greens like kale or chard, and a hefty dose of savory spices like turmeric, cumin, and cracked pepper for a one-pot recipe that's perfect for ladling into a big mug and cradling by the fire!

Guacamole

There are few things better than scooping fresh guacamole onto crunchy chips in front of your favorite holiday movie. More than the source of tasty dip, avocados are a nutrient-dense treat rich in fiber, Vitamin C, Folate, Lutein & Zeaxanthin, and more![2] Dietary fiber helps to support your digestive system by feeding gut microbes. Lutein & Zeaxanthin are macular carotenoids; they help protect healthy eyes from blue light emitted by the sun and digital devices. If you're looking for another way to add some Lutein & Zeaxanthin to your routine, Nature Made® offers tasty Lutein & Zeaxanthin Gummies in a delicious mango flavor! One of the tastiest and comfiest ways to eat avocados is to combine them with lime, tomato, cilantro, and garlic to make a simple guacamole. And like all dips, guacamole is best shared with friends and loved ones.†

Sweet Potato

On those cold winter days, tucking into a freshly baked sweet potato can warm your heart and your taste buds. There's nothing guilty about this pleasure; sweet potatoes are a dietary source of Beta-Carotene, Vitamin C, and Potassium![3] Beta-Carotene is a precursor to Vitamin A, which is essential for healthy skin, and Vitamin C helps make collagen, which supports skin health. That's two skin-health nutrients in one orange root. Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet and easily enhanced with a dash of black pepper and garlic powder. If you're feeding a group, baked sweet potatoes are easy, requiring no more prep than setting a timer on the oven, perfect for holiday gatherings.

Salmon

While you're hibernating inside during the winter months, it's worth taking a few tips from the experts: bears. Count yourself lucky that you don't have to catch these slippery fish as they leap upstream; unlike bears, we humans have the luxury of grocery stores. Tossing a fish on for dinner is a surefire shortcut to a tasty, melt-in-your-mouth meal with health benefits. Fatty and oily fish like salmon are good dietary sources of fish oil and heart-healthy Omega-3 Fatty Acids. The FDA recommends eating at least 8 oz of seafood a week, so this nutritious meal provides more than just comfort.[4] Salmon is also a great topper for a salad made with leafy greens like kale or a tasty bowl with whole grains and hummus!

Yogurt

Yogurt is tasty, easy to eat, and packed with all the goodies that come with fermented foods, namely probiotics! Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help support your gut's natural balance. They work with good bacteria in your gut to support healthy digestion. Try to pick a yogurt without added sugar; you can add a bit of your own flavor by tossing in fresh blueberries for a tasty kick; this combination of prebiotic fruit and probiotic yogurt may even have the potential to help each other out![5] Yogurt is an easy on-the-go comfort food, so just because you have to go into the office doesn't mean you have to sacrifice a tasty, healthy treat!

Supplementation

While the best way to get the vitamins and minerals you need is through eating a healthy, balanced diet, supplementation can help cover any possible nutrient gaps you might miss in your daily intake! Nature Made®'s Multivitamin + Ashwagandha Capsules pack in 21 key nutrients along with Ashwagandha, a traditional herb long used for its adaptogenic properties to help adapt to stressors. Nature Made® supplements are guaranteed to meet our high-quality standards.†


† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


References

  1. Lentils. The Nutrition Source. Published Oct 28, 2019. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/lentils/
  2. Dreher ML, Davenport AJ. Hass avocado composition and potential health effects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(7):738-750. doi:10.1080/10408398.2011.556759
  3. Boston 677 HA, Ma 02115 +1495-1000. Sweet Potatoes. The Nutrition Source. Published November 17, 2017. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/sweet-potatoes/
  4. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Advice About Eating Fish. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Published 2019. https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/advice-about-eating-fish
  5. Fernandez MA, Marette A. Potential Health Benefits of Combining Yogurt and Fruits Based on Their Probiotic and Prebiotic Properties. Adv Nutr. 2017;8(1):155S-164S. Published 2017 Jan 17. doi:10.3945/an.115.011114

Authors

Graham Morris

NatureMade Copywriter

Graham has a degree in film with a focus on screenwriting from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He enjoys learning new things and finding the best, most engaging way to communicate them to a wide audience. Graham appreciates simplicity in life and nutrition, and wants to find the easiest, no-stress ways to stay healthy.

Read More

Kalyn Williams, RDN

Science and Health Educator

Kalyn is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist and a Science & Health Educator with the Medical and Scientific Communications team at Pharmavite. Her experience in the field of nutrition prior to joining Pharmavite has included community and public health education, media dietetics, and clinical practice in the areas of disordered eating, diabetes, women’s health, and general wellness. Kalyn received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona, and completed her dietetic supervised practice in Maricopa County, AZ, with an emphasis on public health. Kalyn is certified in Integrative and Functional Nutrition through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, where she is an active member in addition to memberships in Dietitians in Functional Medicine, Women’s Health Dietitians, and the International Federation of Eating Disorder Dietitians.

Read More