The bounties of fall are endless, especially when it comes to the vast selection of nutrient rich foods to eat. As a health conscious foodie, I love to cook and eat foods that are in season and full of body enriching nutrients and minerals. From my love of all things pumpkin to my love-hate relationship with Brussels sprouts, here are some of my top nutrient rich foods to enjoy this fall.
When I think of fall, pumpkins immediately come to mind. I mean … pumpkin spice lattes, anyone? Officially a member of the squash family, pumpkins are extremely versatile, lending a subtle yet unique flavor to both sweet and savory dishes. Aside from being downright delicious, a single serving of pumpkin offers a rich supply of dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins like A, C and E, and minerals like calcium and potassium. If you are into pumpkin seeds, like me, then you will be glad to know that pumpkin seeds are a great source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that is linked to good heart health. In addition to all of this awesomeness, pumpkins are also naturally low in calories and contain no saturated fat or cholesterol, thereby making them one of fall’s top nutrient rich foods to eat minus the guilt.
Like pumpkins, apples have become ubiquitous with fall. From caramel apples to apple pie, this nourishing fruit appears to be everywhere this time of year. Aside from being a great source of dietary fiber which aids with digestion, apples contain a rich supply of antioxidants, i.e. flavonoids, vitamin C, and B-complex vitamins like riboflavin, which work to help protect the body from disease-causing organisms while promoting efficiency. So, regardless of whether you are into the sweet or tart varieties, there is no denying that there is truth to the old saying ... that an apple a day will keep the doctor away.
Perhaps one of the more exotic fruits of fall, pomegranates are a nutritional powerhouse when it comes to the list of health benefits associated with this fruit. To list a few, pomegranates have been clinically shown to boost immunity, promote good heart health, and help with weight management. How, you say? Well, pomegranates contain relatively high levels of antioxidants and Vitamin C that work to strengthen immune health, a compound called punicalagin which is responsible for lowering “bad” cholesterol and blood pressure, and a great amount of soluble and insoluble fiber that not only facilitates better digestion but also prevents overeating by making you feel fuller longer.
4. Brussels Sprouts
Now, the story with Brussels sprouts - you know the cute little green vegetables that look like miniature cabbages - is that I grew into liking them, and I am sure glad I did. These vegetables are packed with phenomenal sources of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. To be exact, Brussels sprouts are rich in vitamin A, which is great for visual health, vitamin K, which promotes bone health, and iron, which is required for red blood cell formation.
5. Sweet Potatoes
What's not to love about sweet potatoes? They are naturally sweet and good for you! In terms of their nutritional value, these sweet bundles of deliciousness are high in vitamin B6, Vitamin D, and magnesium (the relaxation and anti-stress mineral that is required for healthy artery, blood, bone, heart, muscle, and nerve function).
In the past few years, cauliflower has grown in popularity among vegetable and non-vegetable lovers and it is not hard to see why. This multifunctional vegetable serves as a great substitute for everyday ingredients like grains and carbs. Why the sudden popularity? The answer lies in the fact that the nutritional content of a single serving of cauliflower is quite impressive due to the fact that cauliflower is naturally rich in an array of antioxidants, vitamin C, B-complex vitamins like folates and thiamine, and essential minerals like copper, potassium, and calcium.
I like to think of figs as nature's natural candy without the empty calories. Rich in soluble dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, iron, potassium, and zinc, these plump and sweet treats make for the perfect snack or addition to any meal or baked good. I particularly love to add figs as a sweet and nourishing touch to my salads and breakfast oatmeal. Yum!
There is no denying that fall is one of my favorite seasons, mainly due to the amazing produce that is available this time of year. I am just simply in awe of how delicious and, most importantly, nutritious the fall season can be in terms of its produce. With that said, what are some of your favorite fruits and vegetables to eat in the fall? How do you like to eat or prepare them?