17 Best Winter Vegetables Explained

Discover the top 17 winter vegetables & how to prepare them! Packed with nutrients, these seasonal veggies will keep you healthy all winter long.

assorted-winter-vegetables
Green checkmark surrounded by green circle.

Updated by

Green checkmark surrounded by green circle.

Science-based and reviewed

Published:
April 23, 2024
February 28, 2024
— Updated:

Table of Contents

You might think that eating vegetables is difficult during the colder parts of the year, but I’m here to share my favorite winter vegetables and the best ways to prepare them.

While you may think of summer and fresh, crisp, vibrant salads with grilled vegetables, there are plenty of nutritious vegetables that grow during the colder months. 

Cooking with seasonal produce can reduce the environmental costs associated with your food. Seasonally fresh produce is picked when it is fully developed at the peak of the season, meaning it is in its most nutrient-dense form and has the most vitamins and minerals. 

Keep reading to learn all about the best winter vegetables, how to add more of them to your diet, and some tips on how to grow your own.

{{mid-cta}}

What Are Winter Vegetables?

Winter vegetables are the ones that thrive in cold temperatures, packing a punch of vitamins, minerals, and fiber to keep us healthy and strong. These veggies are known for their ability to withstand cold, harsh weather, even under a blanket of snow. Many root vegetables do well in colder temperatures.

Many winter vegetables have higher amounts of sugar, so they can withstand frosty, freezing temperatures without being destroyed.1

The sugars are stored within the water of these winter vegetables and give them a lower freeze point, allowing them to weather the winter temperatures.2

These vegetables are sweeter tasting than summer vegetables. Not surprisingly, this is due to the higher sugar content.  

17 Best Winter Vegetables for Healthy Seasonal Options

broccoli-and-pumpkin-chopped-in-a-pan

Now that you know how these winter veggies stand the cold, let’s look at which veggies are seasonally available during winter. Here’s a run-down of my favorite winter vegetables, along with why they’re so good for you!

1. Broccoli

  • This cruciferous vegetable is high in antioxidants, including vitamin C and beta-carotene, which support immune function and healthy, glowing skin
  • It is also packed with fiber, supporting good digestive health and a flourishing gut microbiota 
  • Broccoli contains sulforaphane, a compound with potential anti-cancer properties3

2. Brussel Sprouts

  • Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin K, a vitamin that plays an important for bone health and blood clotting4
  • They are high in fiber, supporting healthy digestion and increasing feelings of fullness, which may help with maintaining a healthy weight
  • This winter veggie is high in antioxidants like kaempferol, which may reduce inflammation and promote heart health5

3. Butternut Squash

  • Butternut squash is packed with beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body, which supports healthy vision and immune function
  • It’s a good source of vitamin C, which supports collagen production and a strong immune system
  • This sweet, nutty-tasting squash is also high in potassium, important for maintaining healthy blood pressure

4. Cabbage

  • This lettuce-looking vegetable is rich in glucosinolates, which may have cancer-fighting properties6
  • This winter veggie is also high in vitamin C
  • A good source of fiber, cabbage supports digestive health and promotes weight management

5. Carrot

  • Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, which is important for eye health and immune function
  • It provides a good dose of antioxidants like vitamin C, which also lend a hand to healthy glowing skin and immunity
  • Carrots also give you fiber which makes you feel more full and satisfied for longer and keeps your bowel movements regular 

6. Cauliflower

  • This white cousin of broccoli is rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C and manganese. You already know that vitamin C supports skin health and the immune system. Manganese helps reduce inflammation7
  • Cauliflower also provides choline, important for brain health and development
  • Here’s a shocker: it’s also high in fiber. Did I mention fiber is good for digestive health? How about managing blood sugar levels and keeping them stable? 

7. Fennel

  • Fennel isn’t just a uniquely flavored spice found in your spice rack. Fennel plants have a bulbous base that can be eaten like a vegetable
  • Fennel contains antioxidants like vitamin C and flavonoids, which may reduce inflammation and promote heart health7
  • Fennel may also have antimicrobial properties, but studies have only examined the benefits of fennel oil8

8. Leeks

  • Leeks are a good source of vitamin K, important for bone health and blood clotting
  • They provide antioxidants like polyphenols, which may reduce inflammation and promote heart health
  • They also provide prebiotics for healthy gut bacteria, supporting gut health and digestion

9. Parsnip 

  • Parsnips are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and potassium, supporting overall health and well-being
  • They are an excellent source of dietary fiber, promoting digestive health, regulating bowel movements, and contributing to satiety, which may aid in weight loss
  • Parsnips contain antioxidants such as vitamin C and polyphenols, which help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body, reducing the risk of chronic diseases and supporting immune function

10. Pumpkin

  • Pumpkins are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, supporting overall health and well-being
  • They contain potent antioxidants like beta-carotene, which can help protect cells from damage caused by harmful free radicals, potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and certain cancers
  • Pumpkins can be used in a variety of recipes, from soups and stews to baked goods and desserts, adding flavor, texture, and nutritional goodness to meals

11. Kale

  • Kale is packed with essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, and calcium, contributing to overall health and well-being
  • It contains potent antioxidants such as flavonoids and carotenoids, which help protect cells from oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, and lower the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and certain cancers
  • Kale is an excellent source of dietary fiber

12. Spinach

  • Spinach is a nutrient powerhouse, providing essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, iron, and calcium, supporting overall health and well-being
  • It contains various antioxidants, including lutein, zeaxanthin, and flavonoids, which help protect cells from oxidative damage, reduce inflammation, and lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and certain cancers
  • Spinach has lutein and zeaxanthin, which are beneficial for eye health and may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts9

13. Sweet Potato

  • Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, supporting overall health and well-being
  • Sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index compared to regular potatoes, meaning they cause a slower and steadier increase in blood sugar levels after consumption, making them a suitable option for individuals managing blood sugar levels or diabetes
  • The fiber content in sweet potatoes aids in blood sugar regulation and increases feelings of fullness

14. Swiss Chard

  • Swiss chard is a nutrient-dense winter leafy green filled with essential vitamins and minerals. It’s packed with vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium
  • This bitter green gives your body lots of free-radical fighting antioxidants like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These plant compounds have been shown to lower the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and certain cancers
  • Supports Bone Health: Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamin K, which plays a crucial role in bone metabolism and may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures

15. Turnip

  • Turnips are rich in essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, calcium, and potassium
  • They are an excellent source of dietary fiber
  • Turnips are low in calories and carbohydrates but high in nutrients, making them a nutrient-dense option for those looking to manage their weight or improve their diet quality.

16. Winter Squash

  • Winter squash varieties like acorn squash and pumpkin are rich in essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber
  • They contain potent antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E, which help protect cells from oxidative damage, reduce inflammation, and lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and certain cancers

17. Jerusalem Artichokes

  • Jerusalem artichokes are a good source of inulin, a type of soluble fiber that supports digestive health by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut
  • They provide essential nutrients such as potassium, iron, and vitamin C, contributing to overall health and well-being
  • Jerusalem artichokes have a low glycemic index, making them suitable for individuals managing blood sugar levels and potentially reducing the risk of insulin spikes

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn More: </strong><a href="winter-soup-recipes">28 Soup Recipes to Keep You Cozy and Healthy This Winter</a>.</p>

Best Ways to Include Winter Vegetables in Your Diet

a-spoon-taking-a-sip-from-a-pumpkin-soup-bowl

Now that you know which veggies are in season during the cold winter months, let's talk about how to incorporate them into your meals. Here are some tasty ideas to get you started:

  • Winter Roasted Vegetables: Toss your favorite winter veggies with olive oil, salt, and herbs, then roast them until caramelized and tender
  • Soups, Stews, and Stir Fries: Add chopped winter vegetables to hearty soups, stews, and stir fries for extra flavor and nutrition
  • Winter Salads: Mix crisp greens with roasted winter veggies, nuts, seeds, and a tangy vinaigrette for a satisfying salad
  • Sauteed Greens: Cook leafy greens like kale, spinach, or chard with garlic and olive oil for a quick and nutritious side dish
  • Burgers: Sneak grated veggies like carrots, zucchini, or cauliflower into burger patties for added moisture and nutrition
  • Omelets: Fold sautéed winter vegetables into fluffy omelets or frittatas for a hearty breakfast or brunch
  • Smoothies: Yes, you read that right – you can even add winter vegetables to your smoothies! Try blending spinach, kale, or cauliflower with fruit, yogurt, and a splash of your favorite milk for a nutritious boost

Tips for Growing Your Winter Veggies

If you're feeling inspired to grow your own winter garden, here are some handy tips to help you get started:

  • Plan in Advance: Research which winter vegetables grow best in your region and plan your garden accordingly
  • Know What You Will Grow: Focus on a few key crops that thrive in colder weather, like carrots, beets, and greens
  • Create a Garden Bed for Your Greens: Invest in a raised garden bed or cold frame to protect your leafy greens from frost and harsh weather
  • Start With a Few Crops: Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to grow too many different veggies at once. Start small and expand over time

Learn More About How to Improve Blood Sugar With Signos’ Expert Advice

Good eating habits can help manage blood sugar and support overall health and well-being.

Signos CGM empowers you to improve your health by keeping track of your diet, exercise, sleep habits, and blood sugar. Knowledge is power, and a CGM can give you specific information about how your habits affect your health. 

Signos has a team of health experts who compile evidence-based nutrition information to help you improve your health and wellness. Check out the resources here.

Find out if Signos is a good fit for you by taking a quick quiz.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Also Read: </strong><a href="how-to-eat-more-vegetables">Smart Ways to Eat More Vegetables Everyday</a>.</p>

Get more information about weight loss, glucose monitors, and living a healthier life
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • item 3
Get more information about weight loss, glucose monitors, and living a healthier life
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Topics discussed in this article:

References

  1. 1. Benjamin Phillips and Collin Thompson MSUE. Identifying and preventing freeze damage in fall vegetables. Vegetables. January 21, 2022. Accessed February 17, 2024. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/freeze_damage_in_fall_vegetables_identifying_and_preventing. 
  2. 1. Chapter 4 - Frost Damage: Physiology and critical temperatures. Frost protection: fundamentals, practice, and economics - Volume 1. Accessed February 17, 2024. https://www.fao.org/3/y7223e/y7223e0a.htm. 
  3. Asif Ali M, Khan N, Kaleem N, et al. Anticancer properties of sulforaphane: current insights at the molecular level. Front Oncol. 2023;13:1168321. Published 2023 Jun 16. doi:10.3389/fonc.2023.1168321
  4. Tsugawa, N., & Shiraki, M. (2020). Vitamin K Nutrition and Bone Health. Nutrients, 12(7), 1909. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12071909
  5. Dabeek WM, Marra MV. Dietary Quercetin and Kaempferol: Bioavailability and Potential Cardiovascular-Related Bioactivity in Humans. Nutrients. 2019;11(10):2288. Published 2019 Sep 25. doi:10.3390/nu11102288
  6. Orouji N, Asl SK, Taghipour Z, Habtemariam S, Nabavi SM, Rahimi R. Glucosinolates in cancer prevention and treatment: experimental and clinical evidence. Med Oncol. 2023;40(12):344. Published 2023 Nov 3. doi:10.1007/s12032-023-02211-6
  7. Ciumărnean L, Milaciu MV, Runcan O, et al. The Effects of Flavonoids in Cardiovascular Diseases. Molecules. 2020;25(18):4320. Published 2020 Sep 21. doi:10.3390/molecules25184320
  8. Korinek M, Handoussa H, Tsai YH, et al. Anti-Inflammatory and Antimicrobial Volatile Oils: Fennel and Cumin Inhibit Neutrophilic Inflammation via Regulating Calcium and MAPKs. Front Pharmacol. 2021;12:674095. Published 2021 Oct 11. doi:10.3389/fphar.2021.674095
  9. Mrowicka M, Mrowicki J, Kucharska E, Majsterek I. Lutein and Zeaxanthin and Their Roles in Age-Related Macular Degeneration-Neurodegenerative Disease. Nutrients. 2022;14(4):827. Published 2022 Feb 16. doi:10.3390/nu14040827

About the author

Victoria Whittington earned her Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition from the University of Alabama and has over 10 years of experience in the health and fitness industry.

View Author Bio

Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

Interested in learning more about metabolic health and weight management?

Try Signos.