Fall Favorites Health Benefits

As we move into the cooler months, we are often drawn to familiar, seasonal flavors (pumpkin spice, anyone?) and comforting, warming meals.  Fall foods are rich in many nutrients and add new seasonal variety as the summer fruits and vegetables disappear. To stay as healthy as possible, eating a balanced and varied diet full of fruits and vegetables is very important. With that in mind, here are eight foods & spices to include in your rotation to help keep you on track for a healthy and delicious fall.

Apples

Apples are a good source of Vitamins B and C, fiber and phytonutrients. The combination of vitamin C and phytonutrients help protect the body from free radicals associated with aging and also increase immunity to help fight off infections as we move into the winter months. Be sure to eat the skin on the apple because the phytonutrients are 3-4 times more concentrated in the peel.

What’s more a study published in August 2020 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that the polyphenols called flavonoids, which are found in apples as well as berries and green tea, might potentially lower the odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin has many great health benefits, including being one of the best sources of beta-carotene — an antioxidant that gives pumpkin its vibrant orange color, while helping to delay aging and reducing the risk of asthma, heart disease and certain types of cancer. 

Pumpkin is also a good source of fiber. Most Americans don’t get nearly enough fiber each day, so adding pumpkin to recipes you’re already making can boost the fiber content. For example, add chunks of pumpkin to soup or add a couple tablespoons of canned pumpkin to your morning oatmeal.

Winter Squash

Winter squash refers to a family of vegetables, including zucchini, acorn, butternut, kabocha, buttercup, spaghetti, blue hubbard and delicata, to name a few. Each has a distinct texture and flavor. The different varieties typically have a vivid orange or yellow flesh because of the concentration of cartonoids (antioxidants) that get converted into the active forms of vitamin A (retinoids). They are loaded with beta-carotene, vitamin A, magnesium, potassium, and fiber.

Try cutting butternut or acorn squash into chunks and roast them for a hearty side dish.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a really nutritious and delicious choice any time of the year, but they are especially perfect in the fall when they are in season. This starchy comfort food comes with many health perks. Sweet potatoes contain a lot of nutrients — fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C just to name a few. Bake, roast or made into fries, they are a delicious addition to fall meals.

Walnuts

To say that walnuts are a nutritious food is a bit of an understatement.

Walnuts provide healthy fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals — and that’s just the beginning of how they may support your health. They are rich in antioxidants, rich in Omega-3s & may decrease inflammation and improves blood fats. Add them to salads & breads, top oatmeal or yogurt, or enjoy a handful as a snack.

Cinnamon

People have used cinnamon since 2000 BC in Ancient Egypt, where they regarded it highly. In medieval times, doctors used it to treat conditions such as coughing, arthritis, and sore throats.

The compounds in cinnamon have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and antimicrobial properties, and that they might offer protection from cancer and cardiovascular disease, among other conditions.Some animal studies have suggested that cinnamon may even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Ginger 

People have used ginger in cooking and medicine since antiquity.

Ginger may help relieve nausea and vomiting and aid digestion.  Antioxidants and other nutrients in ginger root may help prevent or treat arthritis, inflammation, and various types of infection. Ginger may also reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer, and other health problems.

People typically use fresh or dried ginger in cooking or herbal tea, and some take ginger supplements for their possible health benefits.

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is a spice made from the seed of the nutmeg tree, a native Indonesian evergreen tree.

Nutmeg is found to have health benefits, including its ability to relieve pain, soothe indigestion, strengthen cognitive function, detoxify the body, boost skin health, alleviate oral conditions, reduce insomnia, increase immune system function, and prevent leukemia, and improve blood circulation.

This Whole Wheat Zucchini Pumpkin Bread is delicious way to incorporate several of these ingredients into one dish. Great for a healthy breakfast or afternoon snack!

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