5 foods that can help keep you warm during the cold snap

As well as knowing where your woollies are as the colder weather goes nowhere, fast, make sure you know which foods could be good winter warmers too...

As winter gets set to bite, we look to traditional warming foods like soup and stews to help keep the chills at bay.

[Read more: Healthy winter diet: The best foods to eat to stay well this winter]

But as well as a bowl of soup or a hot cuppa, other foods could help keep you toasty. According to Chinese medicine, certain 'yang' foods affect our internal temperature by heating and invigorating us, pushing blood and energy to the surface of the body during the digestion process.

While such theories aren't backed up by modern science, if you're looking to warm yourself up, it won't hurt to try these.

1. Chilli

Hot chilli peppers contain the compound capsaicin, which gives them their spicy kick. Capsaicin is also used in topical pain-relieving creams, and can cause a burning or stinging sensation when first applied to the skin – just like the heat you feel when you eat chilli peppers.

Chillis can help to keep you warm during winter

Protein from the beans in chilli-con-carne can help you build muscle, and the tomatoes and onions in the dish are rich in antioxidants which help keep you healthy too.

2. Onions

Onions are used in traditional Chinese medicine, as a chi - or energy - tonic, to help increase perspiration, and tackle illnesses brought on by cold weather. The idea is that they encourage energy to move to the body's surface to help keep you warm.

Onions can help to keep you warm during winter

3. Ginger tea

If you're thinking of warming up with a cup of tea, try adding ginger root to your brew. Ginger is thought to have thermogenic properties that can keep you warm, and some believe it may also boost metabolism and promote blood flow.

[Read more: What's your perfect winter warmer? Take this hearty food quiz to find out]

4. Turmeric

Turmeric, the spice that gives curry powder and mustard its deep yellow colour, is rich in antioxidants and has long been used for healing in India.

It's seen as one of the best warming herbs because it's thought to tighten tissues and absorb excess moisture. As well as the heat it helps give to spicy foods like curries, turmeric milk or turmeric tea are hailed as excellent warming drinks too.

5. Porridge

Traditionally, a steaming bowl of porridge is thought to be one of the best winter warmers, as well as being a healthy food because oats can help lower 'bad' LDL cholesterol, which collects on the walls of your arteries. But oats are another Chinese 'yang' or warming food, and are thought to help keep you toasty by mopping up excess dampness inside the body.

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