Fall is in full swing, which means that in addition to pulling out our sweaters and raking up (or jumping into) huge piles of deep crunchy leaves, it’s time to load up our plates with some of the most delicious – and nutrient packed – foods of the year. This season’s foods come packed with disease-fighting antioxidants, skin-nourishing vitamins and stress reducing compounds that nourish our bodies as well as our souls. So before you head out to the grocery store, check out our top 5 foods and our favorite ways to use them.
With its deep red color, it’s a shame that this super-fruit isn’t included with the likes of sweet potatoes and pumpkins as a great fall food staple. Pomegranates not only fight inflammation and help slow tumor growth; the juice is also great for your heart. Drinking just 10 ounces a day can lower high blood pressure and triglyceride levels and raise your heart-protective HDL cholesterol numbers. It’s also much lower in sugar than apple and orange juices, so it’s a great option for kids at the dinner table. Interested in how the dark red fruit can also help you fight off fat storage? Check out the video below from Sharecare expert Joel Fuhrman, MD.
This fall favorite is packed with perks. Apples contain pectin, which helps to lower blood glucose levels and blood pressure; and they’re also loaded with vitamins A, E and beta carotene – a trio of nutrients that fight back against cellular damage and help prevent asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Another reason to munch on apples? They can add years to your life. So feel free to load up. Use them to dress up this new take on the apple pie; add them to bran muffins; and include them in tossed salads.
3. Brussels sprouts
You may have turned your nose up at them as a kid, or even as an adult, but it’s time to try them again. Whether you roast them whole or chop and sauté them, the Brussels sprout comes loaded with essential nutrients like folic acid and fiber. Not sure how to get them on the plate for your family? Try ’em with bacon and sunflower seeds.
4. Sweet potatoes
With appearances on nearly every Thanksgiving table, the sweet potato is one of our favorite fall foods. Actually a member of the morning glory family, this veggie is packed with carotenes, vitamins C and B6, and potassium. Sweet potatoes can also help balance blood sugar in people with diabetes. It’s one of the most versatile veggies, too – a favorite for pies, fries and everything in between (including this collagen boosting, crow’s feet repairing face mask from dermatologist Ellen Marmur, MD). Bonus: sweet potatoes can also help keep your hormones from going haywire from the stress of the holiday season.
People have a tendency to overlook this pale veggie, and many people assume that aside from raw or steamed, there’s really no way to eat it. But cauliflower is more versatile – and nutritious – than you think. It contains the compound sulforaphane, which has been shown to prevent stomach ulcers. The vitamin C in cauliflower (one serving has more than 50% of your daily value, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) also lowers your risk for heart disease, and the vitamin K it contains helps boost bone strength. They’re also one of the best veggies for fighting cancer. Want to turn up the volume on your typical cauliflower dish? Surprise the family with this healthy take on traditional mac and cheese.