Eating two servings of fruit is more important than ever during winter, says expert

Close-up of a tangerine in the hands of a child. - stock photo
You can ward off ills and chills with some kitchen staples. Photo credit: Getty Images

With winter ills and chills making their rounds, many of us will be taking various pills and powders touted as 'immunity-boosting' miracle-workers that will stop the sniffles in its tracks.  

But with the cost of living crisis packing a punch on our wallets, supplements are yet another expense - and according to an expert, a lot of those health-boosting nutrients can be found in the fruit that's probably languishing on your countertop right now. 

Dr Carolyn Lister, 5+ A Day trustee and principal scientist and team leader at Plant and Food Research, says incorporating at least two servings of fruit into your diet each day is a great way to improve your health and wellbeing, particularly during the winter months. 

"Winter fruits such as kiwifruit, lemons, navel oranges and tamarillos provide important immunity support," Dr Lister said in a statement on Tuesday. 

"Fresh is best when it comes to winter fruit. Buying the varieties that are in season now will not only provide you with the biggest nutritional punch, but they'll also provide the best value.

"The delicious fruit grown here in Aotearoa are one of the best sources of the essential nutrients our bodies need. They're packed full of vitamins, antioxidants, fibre and water that support repair and recovery, immunity, energy levels and mental wellbeing.

"Incorporating fresh fruit into your evening meal is a great way to make sure the whole whānau gets at least two servings of fruit every day for optimal health."

Apples, locally grown grapefruit, green and gold kiwifruits, lemons, mandarins, navel oranges, green pears, rhubarb and tamarillos are all currently in season in Aotearoa

While berries aren't in season until the warmer months, strawberries continue to be imported during the winter and frozen berries are another great option. Other imported fruits that are available throughout the winter include stone fruits such as apricots, cherries, nectarines and yellow peaches, as well as bananas, grapes, melons and pineapple. 

Dr Lister is urging Kiwis to get creative in the kitchen by incorporating fresh seasonal fruits into their salads and main meals, rather than reserving them for snacks or a sweet post-dinner treat. 

She recommends adding sliced green kiwifruit and almonds to a mix of rocket and red onion for a quick and tasty side salad: you could also make a simple dressing with the juice of navel oranges for added flavour. 

For a tangy, spicy salsa that's perfect for taco night, Dr Lister suggests adding garlic, chilli, lemon juice, red onion and fresh winter herbs to diced gold and green kiwifruit.

According to Food Composition NZ, one serving of gold kiwifruit contains 166 mg of vitamin C, or 415 percent of your daily intake, while an orange boasts 83.6 mg. The recommended dietary allowance for adults aged 19 and older is about 90 mg daily for men and 75 mg for women.

For more recipes and inspiration for making the best of fresh seasonal fruit, you can check out the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust website, which has a database with plenty of delicious options.