A cup of hot ginger tea is something we always look forward to in the chill of winter. Winters brings cold, cough and flu due to the prevalence of more viruses as compared to other seasons. According to a study conducted by The American Heart Association, occurrence of heart attacks and strokes increase by 26-36% in winters compared to summers. Foods that are loaded with nutrients, antioxidants and immune-boosting powers are required by our body to power itself through the cold weather. Read on to find the best hot foods to eat on wintry days.

1. Ginger:
The magic root lives up to its name during winters. Ginger not only helps the body stay warm, but also helps boost the immune and digestive systems. Add it to your morning cup of tea or put some in your favourite curry, ginger has the power to not only keep you warm but also keep you free from diseases.

2. Nuts: Nuts are liked by most people by and large, so it is fairly easy to make them a part of your diet. Soak at least 10 almonds in milk before going to bed and eat them in the morning. Almonds can also be added to oatmeal or cereals. This makes your breakfast more interesting and, most importantly, healthy. Peanuts can be a great snack. A delicious way of eating peanuts is to simply boil them and sprinkle some salt and pepper to give it some zest. It tastes amazing and does a great deal when it comes to warming your body.

3. Oil Seeds: Seeds like pumpkin and sesame work well as body-warmers. These seeds can be roasted and consumed. Sesame seed, in particular, is an integral element of Indian culture from the very beginning. The benefits are widely recognized & assimilated into daily life, as part of tradition, rituals & diet. It is used in the form of seeds & oil. Though each has their own benefits, sesame is very useful in ‘generation of heat’ leading to body warmth, mortality & potency. The use of sesame is generally recommended in the cold winter months.

4. Root Vegetables: Vegetables grown under the ground absorb nutrients in the soil. Carrot, radish, parsnips, beetroot, turnips are some root vegetables, which are readily available throughout the winter season. Carrots top the list of all. It contains minimal fat, lots of fibre, vitamin A, C beta carotene, antioxidants and minerals. Radish is commonly used in mooli parantha, radish sambhar, mooli sabji in Indian kitchens. They are rich in vitamin C, Magnesium, Copper, Calcium and even Iron.

5. Dates: Dates are a special winter delicacy, which are very popular in the world, because of its high nutritional value. In spite of their small size, they are considered as a power pack of nutrients. Dates are one of the most ancient and sweetest fruits. This sweet and nutritious fruit contains 60% to 70% natural sugar which is absorbed and digested without any trouble.Dates have lots of antioxidants and substances, which keep the body warm.

6. Spices: Cinnamon, cloves, ginger and pepper top the chart when it comes to warm foods. These spices are easy to incorporate into your daily diet. Cinnamon can be used in baking breads and pies. It adds great flavour and benefits your health. Cloves and ginger can be added to beverages, such as tea. Even ground pepper can be added to tea – it makes the beverage extremely refreshing and healthy.

7. Whole Grains: Brown rice, quinoa, oats, barley and millet provide not only warmth, but also essential carbohydrates to keep you energetic and ban laziness! Brown rice can be eaten with gravies and dals. Oats can be included at breakfast with low-fat milk. Whole grains are also a great source of vitamin B and Magnesium. Both play a vital role in the functioning of thyroid and adrenal glands. These are the glands that regulate body temperature, making whole grains a must during the winter.

8. Honey: Honey works wonders when it comes to increasing your body’s temperature. Apart from being tasty, it is an excellent source of carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Winter is harsh on skin and hair, so applying facepacks with honey can help you get spa-like results. Consuming it as a food also enhances your body’s capacity to bare the cold and acts as an energy fuelling source. Honey can be eaten with brown bread, oatmeal, cereals and even chapathis.

9. Garlic: Garlic is rich in anti-bacterial and antiviral properties, which makes it very helpful to alleviate chest infections. For people with bronchitis and asthma, winter is a trying season. Consuming garlic will help in dealing with such problems. Garlic also has the capacity to lower cholesterol levels. Garlic can be incorporated easily into a daily diet by adding it to soups or by being consumed raw in the early morning. It can also be added to your favourite gravy with chapathis.

10. Turmeric: Turmeric is another condiment that keeps your body warm in winter. Not only can you add it to your milk but in Indian households, turmeric is a must add-on to your daily dal and curry. So, the next time you feel unwell, help yourself with a turmeric milk shot and keep those diseases away.

11. Jaggery: Adding Jaggery creates a new flavour in sweetmeats and Indian desserts. It is not only nutritionally better than sugar but also provide warmth during winters. Peanut praline or peanut chikki made of peanuts and jaggery are the best dessert in cold.

12. Tulsi: The Hindu religion considers Tulsi a divine herb and the word 'Tulasi' in Sanskrit means beyond comparison. In Ayurveda, it is considered the mother of all remedies. From treating cough and cold to raising immunity, and from healing skin ailments and fighting bacteria to acting as a diuretic, Tulsi has unlimited uses and provides a range of benefits in winters.