10 Healthy Seasonal Foods To Fall In Love With
As the sun begins to set a little sooner and nighttime temperatures begin to dip, many of us look forward to the abundance of fall produce this season supplies us with. The good news is many of these tasty fruits and vegetables aren’t just loaded with deliciousness, but they’re packed with an abundance of health benefits as well. All we need to do is eat up.
Here are some of this season’s most common autumn foods and the health benefits you can harvest from each of them.
Pumpkins — Skin health
As the unofficial symbol of fall, the pumpkin is for far more than just carving or seasonal décor. Like their orange cousins, the carrot, the sweet potato, and the winter squash (any squash harvested in the fall, such as spaghetti squash, acorn squash, and butternut squash), pumpkins are packed to the stem with beta-carotene. This antioxidant is then converted in the body to vitamin A, which helps combat the effects of aging on the skin, sharpens eyesight, boosts immunity, reduces hypertension, and curbs cancer risks. Additionally, pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps make serotonin — and serotonin promotes good sleep.
Apples — Brain health
As one of the more popular produce items of the fall season, apples are hard to miss. The varieties at your disposal make choosing this crispy, sweet snack just as hard. Fortunately, juicy sweetness isn’t the only benefit that comes with eating this fruit. For starters, apples have almost 4.4 grams of fiber and 8.4 mg of vitamin C. Additionally, apples contain polyphenols (called flavonoids), which have been shown to lower the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and lung cancer, as well as help with weight management and lower the odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Sweet potatoes — Eye and immune health
This may come as a shock, but sweet potatoes aren’t potatoes. They’re sweet roots in the morning glory family. Regardless of their classification, they’re especially delicious this time of year, as well as a healthy option any time of the year. And the best part, they contain a lot of beneficial nutrients. Just one sweet potato offers 400% of the recommended daily value of vitamin A, which helps keep your eyes and your immune system healthy. They are also rich in carotenoids (antioxidants) that have the power to protect cells from day-to-day damage.
Blueberries — DNA health
Blueberries are one of those precious superfoods that are not only incredibly good for you, but their season stretches through the summer and into the fall — providing a deliciously healthy snack for most of the year. Plus, they’re easy to freeze so you can enjoy them all winter, too. Because blueberries are high in antioxidants, they can neutralize some of the free radicals that damage DNA, which can help protect against aging and cancer. They also help reduce the levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol in the blood, making them especially good for your heart.
Cranberries — Anti-inflammatory health
Cranberries are, perhaps, the quintessential holiday fruit and often featured in countless dishes. Aside from being an infamously popular Thanksgiving sauce or trail mix ingredient, they have some of the highest levels of phenols (a type of antioxidant), producing similar benefits to blueberries. Cranberries are also high in anthocyanins, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. Additionally, they help lessen the risk of urinary tract infections and can improve gut health by putting good bacteria back into the digestive system.
Pears — Heart health
Like apples, pears are another fall fruit loaded with nutrition. Not only do they score high in fiber and vitamin C, but pears also contain an impressive amount of potassium, as well as the antioxidants procyanidin and quercetin. These antioxidants are crucial for helping keep your heart healthy by decreasing inflammation and tissue stiffness. Pears also help keep your muscles and nerves working as they should while regulating blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Leeks — Bone health
While onions are often a kitchen mainstay, leeks offer a milder but flavorful alternative that can be used interchangeably in most every dish. And the best part: they are loaded with flavonoids, specifically kaempferol, which have anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and anti-cancer properties. Leeks are also a great source of vitamin K, which may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and promote stronger bone health and carotenoids, which help reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Brussels sprouts — Anti-cancer health
Brussels sprouts often get a bad rap for having a bitter taste or a strong sulfur-like smell. While that is often true when they aren’t prepared properly, there is also a lot of nutrition packed into each mini-cabbage bite. In fact, it is that natural, sulfur-based substance, glycosinolate glucobrassicin, that provides some of the best health benefits, including protection against cancers of the stomach, lungs, kidney, breast, bladder, and prostate. The antioxidants and fiber found in Brussels sprouts may also help stave off other health issues, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes.
Parsnips — Immune and cardiovascular system health
Parsnips may look like ghostly carrots, but their health benefits are as lively as their crisp, nutty sweetness. For starters, parsnips boast high amounts of vitamin C, helping to boost the immune system and support infection-fighting white blood cells. They’re also packed with potassium and vitamin K, which help heart function, balance blood pressure, and lower the risk of kidney stones. And when it comes to cell health, the folate (vitamin B) found in parsnips is just what your body needs to create new blood cells and maintain healthy skin and brain cells.
Broccoli — Digestion health
Mom always said, “Eat your broccoli.” Turns out she had good reason. The nutrient content of this miniature-tree-resembling vegetable is one of its biggest advantages. In addition to a truckload of vitamins that support everything from eyes and hair to inflammation, and blood sugar to immune and heart health, broccoli has high levels of a cancer-fighting compound called sulforaphane. But that’s not all. Broccoli also plays a role in maintaining bowel regularity and a strong community of healthy bacteria within the colon, both of which promote healthy gut function.
At Summit Vista, we realize your health and well-being are an important consideration when exploring retirement living options. That’s why we make our community the maintenance-free experience you desire with the peace of mind you’d expect for a happy, healthy future that’s free of concern. For more information about the benefits offered in a Life Plan Community, speak with your retirement counselor, or call 801-758-3138 today.