Diet & Exercise: “Winter whites” are super foods

Published 1:29 pm Thursday, December 28, 2017

One popular trend in nutrition today is to stay away from “white” foods. These are foods like white bleached flour, pastas, breads, crackers, cereals, and simple sugars like table sugar and high fructose corn syrup. These foods are highly processed and refined, which robs them of their nutrients.

Today, I’d like to share information on a few white super foods. I call these “winter whites.” These foods might lack brilliant colors (usually associated with nutritious produce), but still contain many disease fighting antioxidants and compounds.

Cauliflower: This vegetable belongs to the cruciferous (cabbage) family. Just one cup provides 90 percent of your daily value of vitamin C, while only yielding 26 calories. Cauliflower is also a rich source of vitamin K and folate (folic acid).

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This vegetable can be enjoyed raw, sauteed, steamed (as with most produce, don’t over-cook, as this will diminish its nutrient value) or even pickled.

Jicama: Pronounced hi-ku-muh, jicama is probably not familiar to many folks, but just one cup of this vegetable, also known as a Mexican turnip, provides nearly ¼ of the daily fiber requirement, and 1/3 of your need for the powerful antioxidant vitamin C. This crunchy root vegetable should be eaten raw. It has a mild sweet taste (dipping thin slices into salsa is great) yet one cup has only 40 calories.

Turnips: This vegetable also belongs to the cabbage (cruciferous) family, and is native to Europe. One cup of turnips is low in calories (36), yet high in vitamin C. Turnips are also rich in cancer-fighting compounds called glucosinolates. Turnip greens are high in vitamins A, C, E, and B6.

Turnips can be mashed like potatoes or blended into your favorite mashed potato recipes. Young turnip slices have a sweet taste and can be added to olives, pickles, or grape tomatoes to make delicious appetizers. They are great when added to soups and stews, too.

Garlic: Garlic is actually considered both a vegetable and an herb, and has been used medicinally for thousands of years, dating way back to Greek and Roman times. This redolent little vegetable is a member of the Allium family, along with onions, leeks, and shallots. Compounds found in garlic regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels, protect against cancers and infections, and boost the immune system. Additionally, garlic is a good source of vitamins A, B2, and C, calcium and zinc.

Garlic cloves can be minced, then added to recipes, roasted or boiled. Boiled garlic cloves are delicious, and actually have a mild nutty flavor.

Parsnips: Related to carrots, celery, and parsley, parsnips are a good source of vitamin C and fiber. They have a delicious flavor and can be roasted, grilled, baked (oven baked parsnip chips are fabulous), and even fried. Raw parsnips can be grated into slaw and salads.

Onion: During the 1919 flu epidemic in which 40 million died, a doctor was visiting many farm homes to see if he could help them fight their ailment. He came across one farmer and to his astonishment, the doctor found all in the home to be healthy. When the visiting physician asked the farmer what he had done differently, the farmer’s wife related she had placed an unpeeled onion in a dish in all the rooms of their home. The doctor asked if he could take one of the onions to study, and upon investigation, found the flu virus inside the unpeeled onion, thereby hypothesizing the onion drew in the flu virus, neutralizing it, keeping the family safe.

Now, I’m in no way suggesting you place onions all over your home instead of taking the seasonal flu vaccine, but it is an interesting story about the power of onions. Onions are a rich source of quercetin, a flavonoid linked with reduced risk of colon cancer, in addition to its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Onions have been shown to have a positive effect on blood sugar levels as well.

The response for the free nutritional/fitness consultations has been tremendous. I’ll extend it through next week. If you’ve put your name on the list, but not yet heard from me, be patient, I will get back to you.

Diet or exercise question? Email me at, or text to 864-494-6215. David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 29 years.