Stew or salad: what warms us up?

‘It is the association that reinforces the ‘winter feeling’

[SPECIAL: WINTERSE MAALTIJDEN] NEW SPRING – Winter time has arrived and that means we are at the beginning of a few cold months. Not everyone will be turning up their heating this year as in previous years due to rising gas prices, but how do we stay warm? Okay, with a nice hot meal! But to what extent are we warmed by stew, pea soup and a mighty lasagne? Is it really useful?

In the search for information about the warming function of food, we came across an article by RTL Nieuws from January 2020 with the headline ‘Great tips for cold skin: Eat warm with kale’. Journalist Franke van Hoeven has listed a few tips to get through the winter heat, including eating and drinking. For example, it is best to leave alcohol behind and replace it with coffee, hot chocolate or herbal tea. In addition, there appear to be foods with a warming effect, writes Van Hoeven. She mentions kale, pumpkin, parsnip and sweet potato as examples. Oh, and a cookie with the coffee? You can forget it. It is precisely the whole grain products and complex carbohydrates such as potatoes and lentils that have a thermogenic effect. Hence all the stews in the winter! The topic is popular because Blijtijds, a publication of the media company Bindinc., has also written an article: ‘You will no longer be cold from this food’. In terms of content, it almost corresponds to the tips that RTL journalist Van Hoeven gives. Winter vegetables, spices, nuts and seeds: According to Blijtijds, they all have a warming function, but the preparation also plays a role. For example, pear has a cooling effect, but stewed pear has a warming effect. It makes sense. Other tips that Blijtijds gives are: eat enough, start the day with a hot breakfast and avoid frozen products. The latter has a special reason: even if you heat them up, they retain a cold energy. Can we take this advice seriously? Do foods really affect our body heat?

The function of food
We asked Anne Lutgerink, spokesperson and social media editor at the Nutrition Centre. “Food has an important function for our body: any kind of food and drink warms your body. When your body digests food, it releases heat. But it works just as well with the stew as with a cold salad. How hot it is depends more on the size of your meal. The so-called ‘thermogenic’ effect is higher with protein than with carbohydrates and fats. And for example, alcohol causes vasodilation, which actually cools you down. If you want to feel warm, you can of course also move and dress warmly. From a scientific point of view, there is no particular food group you should or shouldn’t eat to stay warm. With our warm home and plenty of clothes, you don’t need to eat extra calories to stay warm. The fact that we crave spices such as cinnamon, anise, ginger and cardamom in autumn and winter probably has more to do with their use in December’s delicacies. And they are also often combined with vegetables such as pumpkin, parsnip, beetroot and cabbage, which are in season for autumn. It is the association that reinforces the ‘winter feeling’.”

This is exactly what the supermarkets are responding to. During the cold months, the magazines and websites are always dominated by winter food: packed with inspiration and recipes. And just as well on the shop floor. The second compartment is filled with potatoes, kale and a smoked sausage. This is exactly what Albert Heijn is doing now; the idea behind the Zaan formula is that in this way they respond to fruits and vegetables that are in season. Pauline van den Brandhof, spokesperson at AH: “In the Netherlands, for example, asparagus in the spring and strawberries in the summer. And now you have, for example, kale and pumpkin.” Nice, sure, but not necessary to stay warm.

Source: Madavisen

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